Questions to Ask Your Doctor

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October 14, 2014


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This post is available in: Spanish

In today’s digital age, an endless amount of information about health conditions and treatments is available at our fingertips.

Many people turn to their computer first when seeking answers to medical questions.  In fact, 72 percent of U.S. adults looked for health information on the Internet within the past year, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. But when it’s time to visit the doctor, do we know what questions to ask?

Prepare for Your Visit
Having a list of questions prepared in advance of your appointment will help make the most of the time spent with your doctor.  Clear communication can lead to better decision-making about your care, ultimately resulting in improved health.

“We want patients to ask questions and be actively involved in their healthcare,” said Anaiys Ballesteros, D.O., a Board-certified family medicine physician with Baptist Health Medical Group. “Just like taking medicine you’re prescribed, communicating with your doctor is a part of taking care of yourself.”

Dr. Ballesteros encourages patients to write down their specific questions and take note of any topic they really want to discuss.  While questions will vary depending on the reason for your visit, there are a few basic ones that can apply to a routine exam or a visit for a specific illness:

Questions to Ask

  • What screenings do I need and at what age(s) do I need them?
  • Will this condition (or disease) affect my day-to-day lifestyle and how?
  • What kind of tests do I need, and what will these tests tell me?
  • What are the side effects of this medication and how long will I have to take it?
  • Do the medicines I take have any adverse interactions with each other?
  • Is this the only option, or are there other treatments to consider?
  • Do I need a follow-up appointment?
  • Is there anything I can do to prevent this condition?
  • If you have a chronic disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, ask if there are any new treatments available or if he or she has any suggestions for changing the way your condition is being managed?
  • What type of exercise is best for me, and how often should I exercise?
  • Your Overall Health
    In addition to bringing a list of questions, Dr. Ballesteros advises patients to bring with them a list of past surgeries and current medications being taken.

    Asking questions is one way to create dialogue with your doctor. It’s also important for your doctor to get a snapshot of your overall health, including your family’s health history and any symptoms you’ve been having, adds Dr. Ballesteros.

    “When it comes to the doctor-patient relationship, a team approach is best,” she said.  “Asking questions about, and clarification of, prescribed tests and diagnoses help create an effective treatment plan. Patients tend to be more compliant when they understand the steps being taken to safeguard their overall health.”

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