Nine questions to ask your doctor

Asking questions helps you play an active role in your doctor-patient relationship.

Doctors are human. They have the best intentions, but that doesn’t mean they can always recognise a patient’s needs. This is why it is important to take an active role when visiting your doctor. Asking questions is one of the best ways to ensure you and your doctor are on the same page. Here are some key questions to get you started.

“What are the different treatment options?”

When it comes to treatment, your doctor may have an idea of what they believe is the best course of action, but it should really be a shared decision-making process. Your doctor’s job is to inform you of your options and help you figure out which suits you best. To ensure this conversation happens, you may have to ask your doctor what alternative options are available.

“What outcome should I expect?”

When a doctor suggests a treatment, whether it be a course of medication or surgery, you want to be sure of exactly what to expect from the treatment. The outcome of your treatment may change how you feel about going through with it.

“Do we have to do this now, or can we revisit it later?”

Asking your doctor whether the treatment needs to go ahead right away will give your doctor the opportunity to think about how pressing the issue is and how quickly it needs to be addressed. Assuming the issue does not require immediate medical treatment, this gives them the opportunity to ask when best suits you.

“Is there anything I can do on my own to improve my condition?”

Lifestyle choices such as what you eat, how much you exercise and sleep, and whether you smoke, account for 70 percent of your risk for illness and disease. These are the major things that will play a role in helping you recover from an existing condition. Doctors are often focused on medical treatment, but asking them what you can do will remind them to give you suggestions about the small, everyday lifestyle choices you can make to assist your recovery.

“What are the side effects?”

Side effects are very common when it comes to prescribed medication. Some will be worse than others and may affect patients differently. It is important when beginning a course of medication, you know exactly what you are going into and whether any side effects are worth it.

“How will I hear about my test results?”

There are few things more stressful than waiting for results from your doctor. You do not want to create more anxiety and tension than is necessary. That is why it is important your doctor is explicit about the way in which you will be contacted about your test results. Don’t be afraid to ask more than once to avoid any confusion.

“How much will this cost me?”

Modern medicine is expensive. Unfortunately when your doctor prescribes medication, they are often prescribing what they believe to be the best course of immediate action and may not be considering the cost. Make sure you ask about the expenses involved in the doctor’s suggested treatment before committing to that course of treatment.

“Should I get a second opinion?”

If you are considering surgery or taking a course of heavy-duty drugs, it is often prudent to get a second opinion. A good doctor will be comfortable with you receiving a second opinion. In cases of a serious diagnosis, a second opinion, particularly from a specialist in the area, is always beneficial. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a specialist if you ask.

“What questions haven’t I asked that need to be asked?”

People often forget to ask this question, but it can be incredibly helpful for your doctor to stop and think about what has not been discussed. For example, they may have spent the time talking about the medical repercussions of a certain procedure, but have forgotten to talk about the emotional side effects.