Questions to ask your doctor

Asking questions at your appointments with your healthcare provider doesn’t just help you learn more, but can actually improve your care. If your provider isn’t aware of all the different puzzle pieces that make up your health, they might not be able to give you the specific care that you need. By talking with your healthcare provider, volunteering information, and asking questions, you can help both of you better understand the full picture of your health.

But what questions should you ask? Having a few questions ready before you start the appointment will keep you from blanking on ideas when your healthcare provider is wrapping up. Your questions will depend on the kind of appointment you’re having, but there are some general lines of questioning that can give you ideas for your appointment.

  • Are there any lifestyle changes I should be making? How will that improve my health?
  • I’m experiencing ______; is that normal?
  • What does this [treatment, diagnosis, result] mean for my day-to-day life?
  • Should we reevaluate the medication I’m taking?
  • What does this test do, and how does it do it?
  • Why do I need this treatment, and are there any alternatives?
  • Are there any side effects to this medication?
  • Can you refer me to _________?

Taking notes about the questions and concerns that you have will make it easier to remember them during your appointment. Using a piece of scrap paper, a planner, or a note on your phone will get the job done. You can also use that space to write down your provider’s responses to your questions so you don’t forget as soon as you walk out of the room.

Additionally, the time you spend in the doctor’s office isn’t the only time you can speak with your provider. If you have questions after your appointment about your prescription, test results, for anything else, feel free to call the office and ask.

  • “Questions To Ask Your Doctor.” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. September 2012. Web.
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