Picking Essential Questions And Topics During Your Doctor’s Appointment

Essential Questions

The average doctor’s appointment is 20 minutes long. For some people, this can leave the appointment feeling rushed. They may feel overwhelmed and forget to ask the most important questions they had for their doctor. They may leave feeling confused because too much information was delivered to them in such a short period. It’s not uncommon for patients to walk out of an appointment with more questions than what they walked in with!

With some brief planning beforehand, you can maximize your time and get directly to the questions and concerns that are most important to you.

Make a list of your main concerns: Put them in order of priority. If your appointment is 20 minutes, you want to make sure at least your top three questions are answered. If you aren’t able to address all your concerns at the appointment, schedule a follow-up afterwards.

Gather medications: Anything you’re currently taking (both prescription and over-the-counter) should be placed in a bag and brought with you. If this isn’t possible, make a list of what you are currently taking, as well as the dosage amounts and frequency.

Bring essential information: This includes your insurance plan information, as well as a list of any other practitioners you have seen since your last appointment.

Bring a recording device: Record the conversation with your physician so there’s no confusion when you leave. There are plenty of free apps on your phone that will let you record or you can simply bring a tape recorder.

Of course, you should let your doctor know your intention to do this beforehand and confirm that they’re comfortable with it. If they aren’t, bring a notepad and pen with you to write down any relevant information.

Key Questions To Ask

It can be sometimes difficult to think of the right questions to ask in the moment, but these six questions come up at almost every doctor’s appointment:

What’s the diagnosis? Although a physician may have discussed this particular diagnosis with several other patients, the information is not routine for you. Ask the questions you need to better understand it. What causes this disorder? Is it permanent or reversible? Will it get worse over time?

What treatments are available? Once all available options are given to you, find out the likelihood of success for each of them Are there risks to any of these treatments? Is a more conservative option available?

What are the side effects of medications I’m being prescribed? Find out how it should be taken, whether it conflicts with any medication you’re currently on and when you can expect to see results. You should also find out if your insurance covers it. If not, is there an equally helpful medication that’s on your insurance plan or a less expensive alternative?

What will this test show? Find out what specifically is involved with the test. Is it absolutely necessary? If so, will your insurance cover it? When will you get the results for it?

Do I need to see a specialist? Find out your options for a second opinion that are covered by your insurance plan.

Do I need a follow-up appointment? If you do, schedule the follow-up on your way. If not, find out the best way to reach your doctor, the wait time you can expect for an answer to your question and if they respond to e-mails.