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The NSPA Blog

Things to Ask Your Doctor During Your Visit 

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Posted on June 3rd, 2019 by Teri Dreher, under Patient Advocacy, Take Charge, Tips & Resources

It is important to be proactive in asking questions during your visit to the doctor. He or she may have ordered tests, x-rays, or other procedures in order to find out what is wrong or to learn more about your medical condition. Some tests are done regularly to check for hidden medical problems.

Medical Tests

Before you have any medical test, it is important to ask what it is for, what it will show, and what it will cost; was it pre-approved, or what will be the cost (so that you are not surprised).  Also ask things you will need to do in preparation for the test, i.e., fasting, or can you take your prescribed medications prior to taking the test.

After tests are done, be sure to ask your doctor what the results are, and to explain just what those results mean. Your test results may be indicative of a serious or worsening condition. Remember to ask your doctor for a copy of the test results. If your test is being done by a specialist, remember to ask that your results are also sent to your primary care physician.

Discussing Your Diagnosis

A diagnosis identifies a disease or physical problem. Doctors make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, and results of a physical exam, laboratory work, and other tests. Knowing exactly what is wrong and understanding a medical condition can help you to make better decisions about treatment. Ask what is the differential diagnosis. Sometimes there may be 3 or 4 things causing illness. While some medical problems never go away completely, they may be treated or managed. Ask your doctor what may have caused your condition and if it is permanent. Ask about treatment of your condition or how it can be managed. Also ask about long-term effects of your condition. Ask how you can find out more about your condition.

Self Advocacy

Self-advocacy is important here. Have a succinct list of questions ready, because you want to make the most of your time in your visit. Most office visits are now 10-15 minutes, and you want to get the most information for your time.  

Sources:  NIH (National Institute on Aging) https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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