Questions You Should Ask Your Physician

Use this checklist the next time you need to visit your doctor. Print out this checklist and mark the questions that deal with your particular situation. Be sure to take these questions with you to the doctor, and write down what your doctor says.

  1. What is wrong?
  2. Can you draw or show me a picture of what's wrong?
  3. Can you show and explain my X-rays to me?
  4. How serious is this?
  5. What caused this problem?
  6. What can I do to prevent this problem from happening again?
  7. Do I need to see a specialist?
  8. What tests do I need?
  9. What will the test results tell you?
  10. How will the test results be helpful to you?
  11. What risks are associated with these tests?
  12. What medications do I need?
  13. What will this medication do for me?
  14. What are side effects of this medication? If they occur, what should I do?
  15. How will this medication affect my other medications?
  16. Are you prescribing tablets, capsules or a liquid? (If you have trouble swallowing capsules or don't like flavored liquids, tell your doctor.)
  17. Can I increase or decrease the dosage on my own, or should I call you first?
  18. What foods or beverages should I avoid while taking this medication?
  19. Can I stop taking the medication early if the symptoms disappear?
  20. What should I do when the medication is gone?
  21. Can I get generic drugs?
  22. If we don't treat this situation, what will happen?
  23. How do we treat this situation?
  24. Are there any side effects with this treatment?
  25. How effective is this treatment for conditions such as mine?
  26. How will this treatment affect me physically, mentally and emotionally?
  27. How will this treatment affect my other medical conditions?
  28. How long will this treatment last?
  29. Is the treatment painful?
  30. What do we do if the treatment doesn't work?
  31. Are there alternative treatments?
  32. What are the good and bad aspects of alternative treatments?
  33. How soon can I expect to feel better?
  34. I'd like to get a second opinion; how can I arrange to have a copy of my records sent to another doctor?

If You Need Surgery...

  1. How will the surgery be performed?
  2. What do I need to know about the surgical incision?
  3. What complications might arise from this surgery?
  4. How long will I stay in the hospital?
  5. Will I need home care?
  6. What restrictions will there be on my activity?
  7. When will I be able to return to work?
  8. When will I be able to have unrestricted activities?
  9. When will I be able to drive?
  10. When will you need to see me again?