Have you ever thought that going to the doctor is a little like speed dating? You have just a few minutes to try to get answers to all your questions.
But are you asking the right questions?
Here are some top questions doctors wish their patients would ask to help them get the most out of their office visits:
1) Ask about tests
Your doctor knows he or she may not see you for a while. So it may seem normal to order all possible tests at once to cover all the bases. But you are the one who has to get poked and prodded and eventually pay the bill.
So ask questions about tests your doctor wants to order:
- Why are you doing this test?
- What will this test tell us?
- How much will the test cost?
- How will I get the test results?
- How long will it take to get the results?
- Do we have to do this test now?
2) Ask about care
You may have been going to the same doctor for many years and been treated very well. But if you have a serious or unusual illness, your family doctor may not be the best person to take care of this condition.
Ask questions about your doctor’s experience and how you can learn more:
- How many patients with my condition have you treated?
- How much experience with this test or procedure do you have?
- Should I get a second opinion?
- How can I learn more about my symptoms or condition?
3) Ask about resources
If you’re like many people, as soon as you develop a new symptom, you jump on the internet to see what the cause might be. Unfortunately, not all internet sources are accurate or up-to-date.
Ask your doctor what sources you can trust:
- I googled my symptoms and read this. Is it accurate?
- I want to read more about my condition. What online sources should I trust?
- What other sources are available? Who can I talk to about this?
4) Ask about treatments
Your doctor may have many treatment options to choose from. Familiarity and past success may lead him or her to recommend one over another. But that may not be your only option.
Ask questions about medications and treatments so you can make an informed decision about the best treatment for you:
- Why am I taking this medication?
- Do I (or does my child) really need an antibiotic for this?
- What are my treatment options?
- How much will the medication or treatment cost?
- What side effects can I watch out for?
5) Ask about outcomes
Your goal when you go to the doctor is to be made well. Your doctor has the same goal. But what that means to each of you may not be the same thing.
Your doctor may think getting rid of pain is the primary goal, while you might be more concerned about resuming your activities, even if it still hurts.
Ask specific questions about the final result of proposed treatments:
- Will I be able to do __________ (insert your main concern here)?
- What can I expect when the treatment is over?
- Could this condition come back again?
- How can I prevent this from happening again?
- How soon should I see you again?
6)Ask about general information
As the appointment is drawing to a close, you or your doctor may skip over something important that you thought of earlier in the conversation. Ask an open-ended question to give you both a moment to think before your time is up:
- Is there anything else I should ask you about today?
Of course, you probably won’t have time to ask your doctor all of these questions in one visit. But if you have the general categories in mind, you can help your doctor remember to share important details with you.
Make a written list of the questions you most want to make sure you ask.
If you get home and realize you forgot to ask something, start a list of questions for your next visit. If the question is urgent, call the office and ask to leave a message for your doctor or nurse to get your answers, or schedule a follow-up appointment to finish the conversation.
Reviewed September 6, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
9 Questions Your Doctor Wishes You’d Ask. Time. Markham Heid. Web. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
10 Questions Doctors Wish Their Patients Would Ask. U.S. News Health Care. Amir Khan. Web. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
The 5 Questions Your Doctor Wishes You’d Ask. Spry Living. Web. Retrieved September 5, 2016.