Although doctors have the best intentions, it does not always mean that they will perfectly recognize their patient’s greatest need. For this reason, patients also need to take an active role when it comes to communicating with their doctor.
One of the best ways to make sure that doctors and patients are on the same page is by asking questions. Questions can help initiate conversations regarding common medical problems and concerns. You can prepare a list of questions ahead of time before your doctor's appointment and use them as your guide. However, if you get a negative response or if your doctor is not interested in answering questions, then it’s time to find another doctor.
Let’s take a look at some questions you should be asking your doctor:
1. Questions regarding your symptoms
- What type of disease or condition do I have?
- How serious is my condition?
- How will it affect my daily routine at home, school, or work?
- What caused my illness?
- Do I need tests for certain diseases or condition?
- Could an underlying disease or condition cause my symptoms?
- Are there any symptoms that I should watch out for?
- Can I transmit my disease or condition to other people? If so, how?
- Will I have any long-term effects of this condition?
- When can I resume school or work?
- Are there any types of foods or activities that I should avoid until I recover?
- Can I prevent this from happening again?
2. Questions to ask regarding your diagnosis
- How is my condition managed or treated?
- What could have caused my condition?
- What is my prognosis?
- Is my condition permanent?
- What are the possible long-term effects?
- How can I find out more about my condition?
- What are the tests involved in diagnosing my condition?
- Are the tests safe and accurate?
- What is the purpose of each test?
- How long do these tests take?
- When will I receive my test results?
- What are the precautions I need to take to avoid spreading the disease or condition?
- Is there a need for a follow-up visit? If so, when?
When you have the test results, make sure that your doctor will explain them to you. You may also want to have a copy of your test results. If the tests are ordered by a specialist, you can request to send a copy of your results to your primary care provider.
If you clearly understand your condition, you can make better decisions regarding treatment options. Knowing what to expect allows you to properly deal with your condition.
3. Questions about your treatment
- How is my condition treated?
- What are the different treatment options available for my condition?
- What type of treatment do I need?
- How long will my treatment take?
- How much do these treatments cost?
- Are there generic drugs available for my condition? If so, are they as effective as branded ones?
- What are the side effects that I can expect?
- What are the benefits and risks associated with the treatment process?
- If I choose not to have any treatment, what would happen?
- If I choose to delay the treatment process, what would happen?
- What should I avoid during treatment?
- What should I do if I experience any side effects?
- How will I know if the treatment is working?
- If I miss a dose of my medication, what should I do?
- Will the treatment affect my work, school, or lifestyle?
Take note of other special instructions given by your doctor. You should also inform your doctor if you are currently taking other medications to prevent serious drug interactions. Consult your doctor before using any over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
4. Questions to ask if you need surgery
- Is surgery really necessary for my condition?
- What type of surgery would you recommend?
- Are there any other treatment options aside from surgery?
- How much will surgery cost?
- What are the risks and benefits of having surgery?
- If I choose not to undergo surgery, what would happen?
- What type of anesthesia will I get?
- How long is the recovery process?
- How long will I stay in the hospital?
- How long have you been performing this surgery?
There is a saying that a curious patient is a healthy patient. This saying really holds true for those who do ask questions and do not hesitate or shy away.
When we visit the doctor, it is mostly related to a specific problem, such as stomach pain, flu, common colds, and other related issues. Because patients want to be cured as soon as possible, they often fail to ask questions about their health and not taking advantage of the time they have with their doctor.
Health and Safety
The following are some valuable tips to help ensure your overall health and safety:
1. Always be involved in your health care.
When we talk about being involved in your health care, it means that you should take part in all of the decisions concerning your own health and treatment.
When you are visiting your doctor or family physician, you can always ask for a family member or a trusted friend to accompany you, especially in times when you are too sick or too stressed out to participate in your doctor's discussion.
2. Speak up.
Keeping quiet will not benefit you. It is best to speak up and voice out any concerns or doubts, which you have in your mind. As a patient visiting the doctor, you have the right to ask questions about your health and treatment options.
You can write your questions on a piece of paper to avoid forgetting what to ask your doctor during the consultation. By doing so, you will sufficiently have all the information you need.
3. Bring a list of your medications and inform your doctor of any allergies you have.
Your list should have all of your medications, which include over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, vitamins, and supplements. Certain medications can interact with other drugs. To avoid drug interactions, make sure to give your list to your doctor.
Aside from the medications that you are currently using, it is also very important to let your doctor know if you have certain allergies.