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10 General Questions to Ask Your Doctor

African-American doctor and patient; questions to ask your doctor
You can set up a healthy partnership with your doctor by asking the right questions and having a positive attitude.

I highly recommend being an advocate for yourself in the event of a health diagnosis (and in general). Here are some questions to ask the doctor of your choice. The idea is not to be a difficult, angry patient with a chip on your shoulder. But neither should you be passive and allow yourself to be pressured into treatment before you’ve had a chance to think about your options. This will cover some general questions for your doctor at your next appointment, or your first one.

If you have received a disease diagnosis, there is more to cover in your session with your doctor. Let’s face it, getting a disease diagnosis is scary, and when people are scared they retreat usually. Their minds might go blank and they may have a mild case of performance anxiety in the office, which can be compounded by some doctors’ lack of bedside manner.

Feeling shy about asking questions of your doctor?

If you don’t feel up to asking these questions yourself, go with a friend or family member who is willing to ask the questions and write down (or audio-record) what the doctor says. Sometimes they say one thing one time and another thing another time. I find it helpful to keep records. It’s not malicious, they just have a lot of people to care for and not enough time to do it, usually.

Before your appointment, it's good to prepare for asking the right questions of your doctor. First, it’s a good idea to get your info together (test results, lab results, and whatnot) and have a copy of each for yourself. Then go out and get a second opinion… or a third, if need be. Also, research the condition yourself ahead of time so you can view the similarities and discrepancies between what your diagnosis is, and what you’re actually experiencing.

Here are just a few questions to ask your doctor:

1. What are other possible explanations for my symptoms? Why do you feel comfortable giving me this diagnosis?

2. What is the normal treatment course for this disorder?

3. What would you do if you had this disorder?

4. (If there is a difference between what the doctor would do and what the normal course is, I think it’s fair to ask why they would not do the usual course).

5. What are the risks and benefits of the usual/normal course of treatment?

6. What are the success rates for the normal course of treatment?

7. What caused the disorder to come up in the first place? (If they say it doesn’t matter, press them a bit. I don’t buy that “why” isn’t important. There is something going on in your body, lifestyle or environment that led to this developing and you have a right to the full explanation).

8. What alternative treatments exist for this disorder?

8a. What are the success rates for this disorder?

9. What can I do to improve my chances of living well with this condition?

9a. What nutritional steps can I take to improve my wellness and stem the progression of this disorder?

9b. What lifestyle changes should I make to be healthier?

10. What support exists for people with my condition? Can you please point me in the direction of other people who have lived through this successfully?

I’m sure there are many more questions you could potentially ask; I’d love to hear from you about what you have asked your doctors (and how they responded). These seemed the most important to me at this time. Please call me if you have questions or concerns you'd like to discuss further: 661-575-7135.


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