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Ask Your Doctor

Today patients take an active role in their health care. You and your doctor will work in partnership to achieve your best possible level of health. An important part of this relationship is good communication. Here are some questions you can ask your doctor to get the discussion started.

About my Disease or Disorder...

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • What caused this condition?
  • Can my condition be treated?
  • How will this condition affect me now and in the future?
  • Should I watch for any particular symptoms and notify you if they occur?
  • Should I make any lifestyle changes?

About my Treatment...
  • What is the treatment for my condition?
  • When will the treatment start and how long will it last?
  • What are the benefits of this treatment, and how successful is it?
  • What are the risks and side effects associated with this treatment?
  • Are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid while I am on this treatment?
  • If my treatment includes taking a medicine, what should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Are other treatments available?

About my Tests...
  • What kind of tests will I have?
  • What do you expect to find out from these tests?
  • When will I know the results?
  • Do I have to do anything special to prepare for any of these tests?
  • Do these tests have any side effects or risks?
  • Will I need more tests later?

More Tips for you...
Usually patients get nervous when then talk to the doctor and after the appointment, they have forgotten most of what they were told. Don't be shy about getting the information you need. IT IS YOUR HEALTH, AFTER ALL. Understanding your doctor's responses is essential to good communication. Here are a few more tips:
  • If you don't understand your doctor's responses, ask questions until you do understand.
  • Take notes, or get a friend or family member to take notes for you. Or, bringing a tape-recorder to assist in your recollection of the discussion.
  • Ask your doctor to write down his or her instructions to you.
  • Ask your doctor for printed material about your condition.
  • Talk to all the members of your health care team, such as nurses and pharmacists, as they are also very good sources of information.
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Copyright 2014 Washington University School of Medicine
Copyright 2014 Washington University School of Medicine