What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: Asking the Right Questions About Your Medical Diagnosis

For those of us presented with a medical diagnosis from our doctor, processing that diagnosis can be overwhelming, particularly if it means a dramatic change in our lifestyle or life expectancy. If the diagnosis is new to you, then you are going to want to read up on it and that may lead to multiple questions.

How can you be sure that you are getting all the information that you need from your doctor? The most important way to do so is through active participation in creating a partnership with your doctor.

Here are 4 key things to remember when facing a diagnosis that will be critical to getting all the information you need.

Make the Most of Your Doctor Visits

When you are at the doctor’s office is the time to ask questions regarding your diagnosis and the impact it will have on your life. If you are not asking questions, then the doctor may assume that you understand or are not interested in further information, which is the opposite of what you need.

Having trouble coming up with questions to ask your doctor? Here are a few to get you started:

  • What is the name of my medical condition?
  • How did you come up with the diagnosis?
  • Do you recommend I get a second opinion?
  • What causes this condition?
  • What treatment options are available?
  • What are the possible risks and complications of treatment?
  • What are the possible risks and complications of no treatment?
  • Is my condition curable, treatable, or permanent/incurable?
  • Which treatment option do you recommend? Why?
  • Will I have to take medication? If so for how long?
  • What are the possible side effects, risks, and complications from the medication?

All of these questions help get the discussion underway. Additionally, do not hesitate to ask for clarification if you do not understand a term, procedure, or information that is being covered. Give the doctor the chance to explain in more detail. If you are sent home with material to read, then make the time to do so. Write down any questions that material may prompt and address those at your follow-up appointment.

Get on the Same Page with Your Doctor

One of the main causes for misunderstandings between patients and their doctors is a lack of communication about each other’s priorities. For instance, a patient’s quality of life may be on the top of their list of concerns, while the doctor is more focused on managing the diagnosis through treatment to avoid additional complications down the road.

It is important to understand what is possible with a certain treatment plan, including the potential outcomes. You might find that the outcome will result in just a small improvement in your symptoms instead of being alleviated altogether. This information can impact your treatment choices, since you may opt out of a procedure or treatment because the outcome is not going to be what you need.

Another vital factor is that some diagnoses require treatment to begin immediately to increase the chances of it being effective. Cancers, for example, can be aggressive and require treatment to be initiated as soon as possible. Therefore, determine how much time you have to make a decision. Ask if certain tests or procedures are necessary right away, or if you can break them up over several visits to make it more manageable.

Recognize the Potential Side Effects

The benefits a medication for one patient can adversely affect another. You need to understand any potential side effects and what to do in case one of them occurs. Become as knowledgeable as you can so you can make informed decisions.

Test results also impact your treatment options. Before deciding whether a treatment is necessary, have all the facts regarding your risks for complications. Doing so will help you to feel in control at a time when your body may feel otherwise.

Do Your Homework

Recognize that your time with the doctor is limited. Therefore, after reading up on your diagnosis, have your questions written down and ready for your next doctor’s appointment.

Many individuals find themselves drawing a blank when in the presence of their doctor or overwhelmed by their explanation. Having your questions written down can help you stay on track to get the information that you need. Also, take notes during conversations with your doctor.

Finally, as part of your research, do not assume every source on the Internet is credible. Be open-minded about the information your doctor shares with you and recognize that an Internet-based diagnosis of your symptoms, alone, is not the best option.

Be an active participant and an informed patient as to your medical care and treatment.

Need Legal Assistance?

In cases where your medical diagnosis may be the result of injury or medical malpractice, it is essential that you work with someone who can help you understand the legal implications of your condition. Contact us for a free consultation regarding your medical diagnosis and your options.

As one of the most successful litigation practices in the Philadelphia area, Marrone Law Firm, LLC provides vigorous, effective representation in matters ranging from personal injury and medical malpractice to real estate and criminal law.