When it comes to managing physician appointments and learning about personal health diagnoses and treatment, the patient is often his or her own best medical advocate. It’s a matter of confidence, courtesy, and more complete understanding of one’s personal medical picture.
That means patients often need to do their own homework before showing up for doctor appointments, particularly pertaining to specific medical diagnoses or concerns.
“You can make sure you get the best possible care by being an active member of your health care team. Being involved means being prepared and asking questions,” reads a statement by the U.S. Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.
However, patients’ actual face time with physicians can be minimal, even during appointments.
It’s easy for non-medical people to feel rushed and perhaps grow distracted or flustered and forget concerns they intended to raise during these sessions.
Experts at health care organizations, such as the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, strongly recommend patients draw up lists of specific questions they wish to ask during set appointments. This suggestion encourages efficiency, etiquette, and the ensuring such issues may be discussed.
10 questions patients often ask during medical appointments for specific conditions
Each individual may come up with a unique set of queries and concerns, based on his or her own medical issues. However, this general list offers a solid start.
- What is the medical term for my condition? (Is there a more commonly recognized name for it as well?)
- What additional medical tests will be needed to confirm this diagnosis and identify potential treatments?
- Can a probable cause be identified for it? (Is it behavioral, environmental, genetic, stress-related, or something else?)
- Are my loved ones at-risk of contracting this condition? (If so, how can this be prevented?)
- What is the likely short- and long-term prognosis? (How long is this medical condition likely to last? Is it curable?)
- What symptoms may I expect? (How might this issue affect my everyday life?)
- What treatment options are available, and how effective are they apt to be?
- What side effects commonly occur with each of these treatments?
- Is surgery advised? What alternatives to surgery might I consider?
- How can I learn more about this condition?
Before leaving any medical appointment involving an identified health condition, it’s always a good idea to discuss what the next step might be. Will additional sessions be required? What about a referral for a second opinion or follow-up by a specialist?
As a rule, it pays to be as polite as possible during such sessions, despite the inherently stressful atmosphere that often exists.
By arriving with a manageable, but specific, list of questions and taking quick notes, the individual patient can help the discussion to stay on track and move along promptly. Plenty of patients even take a trusted friend or family member along to assist with this process.