Patient Guidelines: Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Last Revision: 10/10/2022

medical-decisions-v2You can prepare for any doctor appointment by 1) writing down the questions you have for the doctor in advance, and 2) bringing pen and paper or a recorder to jot down/record  answers and take notes. if you bring a recorder let your doctor know that you are recording the conversation so you don’t forget anything. If the doctor objects, find a better doctor.

Here are questions you might want to ask:

  • What do think might be wrong with me? How do you know?
  • What are the common causes of this problem?
  • Can I self-treat this problem or condition?
  • Will I need any tests?
  • Which tests might I need?
  • What does each test involve?
  • How do I prepare for each test?
  • Will my insurance pay for the tests?
  • What are my treatment choices?
  • What are the benefits and risks of each treatment?
  • What are the side effects?
  • What are the likely outcomes of each treatment?
  • Which treatment is the most common for my condition?
  • What is the recovery like?
  • How will my life change with this diagnosis or treatment?
  • What is the likely outcome if I choose not to have any treatment?
  • What would be the “next steps” if treatment fails?
  • What kind of medication(s) must I take? For how long?
  • What does the drug do? Will there be any side effects?
  • What should I do if I have side effects?
  • Can I take a generic version of the drug?
  • Will the medicine interact with any I am already taking?
  • Should I avoid any kind of food or activity while taking this medicine?
  • Will I need to see a specialist?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • Do I need a follow-up visit?

Don’t hesitate to ask any other questions. You should also prepare questions for any hospital where you will be treated, as well as surgeons, specialists, other clinical healthcare providers, and insurance providers.

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