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Questions and Tips for Talking to Your Doctor

We're doing a little cleaning around the office, and I found a nice list of questions to ask a doctor. The list came from, but the list is no longer on that site. So, I'm reprinting it here:

Key subjects for the patient to consider

  1. Remember, you are the one most interested in your health.
  2. You, the patient, are the most important source of communication with doctors.
  3. Before your visit, take the time to get your medical facts in order so that you can explain what you know to the doctor. This should include any medications that you take and their dosages; any other doctors that you have recently seen; their addresses and phone numbers; and the reasons why you went to see them.
  4. It is important that you listen closely to your doctor and understand what he or she is explaining to you.
  5. If you have trouble understanding the medical terminology, see if a family member can go with you to assist you in understanding or to take notes for you.
  6. Hand washing is a very effective way of reducing the transmission of various kinds of illnesses. Each healthcare worker who has direct contact with you should wash their hands prior to any examination or treatment.
  7. Family members and friends can be great advocates for patients. See if you can bring a family member or friend with you when you see a health care professional.
  8. If the doctor does not communicate the results of your test(s) to you, do not assume that no news is good news. Calf and ask the doctor for your results.
  9. Learn as much as you can about your condition. Ask your doctor or nurse to explain it to you and make sure you use reliable sources for all information that you seek.

What you should know about your doctor

  1. In which field has the doctor been trained?
  2. Is the doctor "Board Certified"?
  3. Does the physician participate in your health insurance plan?
  4. What hospitals does the physician refer patients to?
  5. Does the doctor have an emergency number and can he or she be reached in times of emergencies?
  6. What are the doctor's office hours?
  7. What is the doctor's policy for returning phone calls?
  8. Whom should you speak with if the doctor is not available?
  9. Where is the office located, including street address and phone number?
  10. Is access to the doctor's office easy for patients with reduced mobility?

What you should tell your doctor when you visit

  1. Previous hospitalizations and for what reason.
  2. List of all medications you are taking, their dosages, and when you last took them.
  3. Last time you saw a physician and for what reason.
  4. Names and phone numbers of any specialists you have seen.
  5. Health habits, which may include smoking, alcohol, and/or drug use, exercise, bladder control, and memory.
  6. Any type of problems or changes in your health status.
  7. Your family health history.
  8. Any supplements that you may be taking and when you last took them.

Questions you might ask relating to Illness or symptom(s)

  1. What's wrong with me?
  2. Can you draw a picture or show me what is wrong?
  3. What causes this kind of problem?
  4. Can l give this illness to someone else, and if so, how and for what period of time can I pass this on?
  5. Are there any activities or foods which I should avoid?
  6. When can I return to work or school?
  7. What is the long~term prognosis of my condition?
  8. How can I prevent this from happening again?
  9. How will this problem affect me in the future?
  10. What will happen if I don't treat my condition right away?
  11. What treatment should I follow, including dietary, medical treatment, and lifestyle changes?
  12. When do I need to see the doctor again?
  13. Where can I get more information on my condition?

Questions you might ask about medications that are prescribed to you

  1. What is the name of the medication?
  2. Why do I need this particular medication?
  3. How and when should I take this medication?
  4. How long should I take the medication?
  5. Whet are the possible side effects of this medication?
  6. Is this medication safe to take with other medications I am taking?
  7. What do I do if side effects occur?
  8. How often will I need to get the medication refilled?
  9. How will I know if the medication is working?
  10. What are the risks of not taking the medication?
  11. Is this a brand name or generic name?
  12. Are there less expensive medications for my condition?

Questions you might ask about surgery or a procedure

  1. When do I check in to the hospital and where?
  2. What can I exped to happen before the surgery or procedure?
  3. How long will the procedure take?
  4. Can my family go with me?
  5. What effects will the procedure have on me in the short and long term?
  6. What is the doctor's experience in perfonning the procedure?
  7. What medications will be given to me?
  8. How long will I have to rest at home after the procedure?

Questions you might ask about diagnostic tests or procedures

  1. Why is this test necessary?
  2. What will happen if I do not have the test?
  3. Are there any risks involved?
  4. Will it hurt? If so is there anything I can do to lessen the pain?
  5. Can the doctor perfonn the test in the office or will I have to go to the hospital or the laboratory?
  6. Is there any preparation for the test?
  7. What are the side effects of the test?
  8. What changes or effects should I report to the doctor?
  9. Who will call me with the results of this test?
  10. How long will it take for me to get the results?

Questions you might ask about a hospital

  1. Is the hospital a teaching hospital?
  2. How many patients have this procedure in this hospital each year?
  3. Is the hospital accredited and by what organization?
  4. Where do I check in? When? What will 1 need?
  5. Do l need a pre-operative visit to the hospital?
  6. What services does the hospital offer that are specifically helpful to the type of procedure that l am going to have?
  7. What is the hospital's policy on family members staying overnight with the patient?