Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Before you see your doctor or health care provider, make a list of your questions, symptoms and concerns. If possible, ask a friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment. Here are some sample questions you may want to ask:

If you’re undergoing medical testing, ask:

  • Will the results of my test be mailed to me or should I expect a phone call?
  • Will someone be available to explain the results to me?

If your doctor or nurse advises you to change your diet or lifestyle, increase your activity level or suggests you take medicine, ask:

  • How will these changes improve my health?
  • What will happen if I don’t follow the recommendations?
  • How long should I do it and what type of activity is best?
  • How much weight should I lose and how long should that weight loss take?
  • Are there any community support groups that might help me?

If your doctor prescribes prescription or over-the-counter drugs ask your physician or pharmacist:

  • What drug has been prescribed?
  • How long do I take it?
  • Should I take it with or without food?
  • Should I take it with or without other medications?
  • What time of day?
  • How much/how many? How often?
  • What are the short-term side effects?
  • What are the long-term side effects?
  • What should I do if I experience side effects?
  • How long will I have to take it?
  • Are there less expensive medications for my condition?
  • Will this new drug interact in a bad way with any of the other medications I am already taking?

If your doctor recommends you have surgery, ask:

  • What operation are you recommending?
  • Why do I need the operation?
  • Is there a minimally invasive approach to this surgery? If so, do you perform that type of surgery?
  • Do I qualify for the minimally invasive version of the surgery?
  • Are there alternatives to surgery?
  • What are the benefits of having the operation?
  • What are the risks?
  • What happens if I don’t have this operation?
  • Where can I get a second opinion?
  • What has been your experience in doing the operation (number of cases and outcomes)?
  • Where will the operation be done and how long will it take?
  • What kind of anesthesia will I need?
  • How long will it take me to recover?
  • How much pain can I expect to be in post-operatively and how will I manage it?
  • How long will I need to be off my feet or recovering before going back to work and resuming other (be specific) activities?
  • How much will the operation cost?