Advice on Talking With Your Doctor

Encouraging two-way dialog with your doctors and healthcare providers

When patients are actively involved in their own health, there is a much stronger likelihood their health outcomes will be better. That is why it is so important to feel comfortable with your doctors and be prepared with questions when you meet with them. Here are two helpful resources for you.

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Questions are the Answers“Questions are the Answers” online

“Questions are the Answers” is the theme of a new public education initiative from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It is encouraging patients to have more effective two-way communication with their doctors and other clinicians.

AHRQ is one of 12 agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.

The agency’s website features many helpful tools, including tips on what to do before, during and after your appointment, videos with examples of interactions and this list of the top 10 questions to ask your doctor:

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  1. What is the test for?
  2. How many times have you done this procedure?
  3. When will I get the results?
  4. Why do I need this treatment?
  5. Are there any alternatives?
  6. What are the possible complications?
  7. Which hospital is best for my needs?
  8. How do you spell the name of that drug?
  9. Are there any side effects?
  10. Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?

Curtis Rimmerman, MDThe Cleveland Clinic Guide to Speaking with Your Cardiologist

Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, Curtis Rimmerman, MD, has written a book titled Speaking with Your Cardiologist with advice on what to do prior to your appointment. While the book is written for heart patients, it also can apply to any doctor visit.

Dr. Rimmerman says, “If you have specific questions for your doctor, be sure to write them out ahead and bring them with you. This will help you make the most of your visit.”

Dr. Rimmerman also suggests bringing the following to your next doctor visit:

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  • A narrative of your symptoms and why you are visiting
  • A list of your cardiac risk factors, especially family history
  • An accurate list of your medications
  • If you have undergone prior (cardiac) testing, both paper reports and images, including images or testing on CD-ROM can be invaluable for review, preferably sent to the cardiologist in advance of your visit.

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