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Ask Questions

Don’t Wait for the Doctor to Ask Questions

When you enter a doctor’s office, be prepared to speak up for yourself. Have a list of questions ready to ask the doctor about your condition, and if possible, practice asking these questions to a friend. Be as specific as possible with your questions. They could save your life.

Doctors have specialized skills and knowledge, but they are also human. They cannot read your mind. They cannot feel what you are feeling. They
need information about your specific condition in order to make the best-informed decisions. Unless you explain your condition to them clearly, doctors will have a difficult time reaching the best solutions.

Your questions can help the doctor to focus on the most important information for your specific case. Try to organize your questions based on the type of situation you are facing. Below are a few categories to consider:

1. Before Receiving a Test
Ask the doctor about the reasons for the test and about the possible results.

2. Before Taking New Medication
Ask the doctor if there are side effects and complications associated with the medicine and if there are alternatives, such as non-prescription choices.

3. Before Undergoing Surgery
Is it necessary?

If the first answer is unsatisfactory, try asking the question in a new way. You can also repeat what the doctor said to help clarify any misunderstandings. For example, when a new medicine is prescribed, you could ask the doctor: “Did you say that I need to take these pills twice a day?” Don’t be afraid to repeat something. You need the right information and so does your body.

Remember: you have the power to ask. By speaking up and asking about your concerns, the information provided by the doctor can become richer and clearer. And you never know – you might share a little laugh, too.

Like the song says, you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, with the right questions, you might get what you need.

Do You Know the Right Questions to Ask?

1. What is the test for?
2. How many times have you done this?
3. When will I get the results?
4. Why do I need this surgery?
5. Are there any alternatives to surgery?
6. What are the possible complications?
7. Which hospital is best for my needs?
8. How do you spell the name of that drug?
9. Are there any side effects?
10. Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?

For additional questions to ask, visit www.ahrq.gov/questionsaretheanswer

Source:  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality