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Questions to ask the doctor

Make the most of your doctor's appointment

Whether it is your initial appointment with your GP or a specialist there are a few things you can prepare in advance that will help you to get the most out of your consultation.

Make some notes of things you want to discuss or that you should remember to tell your doctor, such as about medicines you use. Take those notes with you on the day and then tick each point off during your appointment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you find unclear. Let the health professional explain it to you until you are sure you understand it. If you like, take someone with you as support.
Below we have listed some example questions that you may find useful. Feel free to add and amend those according to your needs.

You may also have questions that you would like to ask your doctor or pharmacist about medicines you have to take. Read the sections about Understanding your medicines for tips.

Checklist of questions to ask your doctor at your appointment

Tests, such as blood tests or scans

  • What are the tests for?
  • How and when will I get the results?
  • Who do I contact if I don’t get the results?

Treatment

  • Are there other ways to treat my condition?
  • What do you recommend?
  • Are there any side effects or risks? If so, what are they?
  • How long will I need treatment for?
  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • How effective is this treatment?
  • What will happen if I don’t have any treatment?
  • Is there anything I should stop or avoid doing?
  • Is there anything I can do to help myself?

What next 

  • What happens next?
  • Do I need to come back and see you? If so, when?
  • Who do I contact if things get worse?
  • Do you have any written information?
  • Where can I go for more information?
  • Is there a support group or any other source of help? 

Download or print the questions now and prepare for your doctor's appointment.

Top tips 

Before your appointment

 

  • Write down your two or three most important questions.
  • List or bring all your medicines and pills – including vitamins and supplements.
  • Write down details of your symptoms, including when they started and what makes them better or worse.
  • Ask your hospital or surgery for an interpreter or communication support if needed.
  • Ask a friend or family member to come with you, if you like.

During your appointment

 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand. For example,‘Can you say that again? I still don’t understand.’?
  • If you don’t understand any words, ask for them to be written down and explained.
  • Write things down, or ask a family member or friend to take notes.

 Before you leave your appointment

 

Check:

  • You’ve covered everything on your list
  • You understand, for example ‘Can I just check I understood what you said?’
  • You know what should happen next – and when.Write it down.

Ask:

  • Who to contact if you have any more problems or questions
  • About support groups and where to go for reliable
    information
  • For copies of letters written about you – you are entitled to see these.  

After your appointment, don't forget the following

 

  • Write down what you discussed and what happens next. Keep your notes.
  • Book any tests that you can and put the dates in your diary.

Ask:

  • ‘What happens if I’m not sent my appointment details?’
  • ‘Can I have the results of any tests?’ If you don’t get the results when you expect – ask for them. Ask what the results mean. 

Comments

Page last reviewed: 30/05/2014

Next review due: 30/05/2016

Questions to ask at your doctor's appointment

Professor Sir Muir Gray talks about the importance of clear, accurate and reliable information to help doctors and patients make decisions about their health and treatment. Sir Muir Gray has worked in public health for 35 years.

Media last reviewed: 02/10/2013

Next review due: 02/10/2015

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