A key to a good doctor-patient relationship is your ability as the patient to ask questions. Doing so can help put your mind at ease and potentially stop a complication—like if you don’t understand medication dosages, for example.
But many times, doctors don’t raise certain subjects or questions with you. It’s not because they don’t care or are too busy, they may not know the issue is important to you, which underscores the importance of speaking up during your appointment. Here, we’ll look at some questions to ask your doctor at your next appointment and how you can better remember the information share.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor at Your Next Appointment
If you need any medical tests: Depending on your condition, your primary care doctor or specialist may need to do a variety of diagnostic testing. This can include things like screenings, blood tests, x-rays and more. If it’s recommended you have a diagnostic test, ask these questions:
- Why is the test being done?
- How should I prepare for the test?
- How is the test done?
- Are there any side effects or risks?
- What will the test tell you?
- When will I find out the results, and how will you communicate them to me?
If you’re dealing with a diagnosis: After your tests, you may have a diagnosis to decipher. If so, here are a few questions to ask your doctor:
- What caused this condition?
- Is it permanent?
- How will this condition affect my life or day-to-day activities?
- How is this condition managed?
- How can I learn more about this condition?
If you’ve been prescribed medications: You may need medications to help manage or prevent a condition. If you’re prescribed a new drug, ask your doctor these questions:
- Why are you prescribing me this medication?
- Are there any side effects I should be aware of?
- Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
- Are there any special instructions I should follow?
Tips for Remembering the Information from Your Appointment
Use these tips to help you remember takeaways from your doctor’s appointment.
Ask questions: Ask about anything you’re unclear about. Another option is to repeat back what the doctor has explained and ask, “Am I understanding this correctly?”
Take notes: Another option is to bring along a notepad or pen or type notes into your phone. Or, use your phone to record the doctor’s instructions. Recording can helpful if you want to share your appointment details with others.
Ask for any recorded or written materials: Ask your doctor if he or she has any brochures, DVDs or websites you can use to learn more about your condition or testing.
Call or email the doctor: If you’re still unsure about instructions once you leave the doctor’s office, call or email your doctor. Before you leave the office, ask if your doctor has an email address they use or if you should communicate with them via a patient portal.