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Questions to ask the doctor

  • Ask the doctor

Make the most of your doctor's appointment

This page has been developed by the Department of Health to help everyone get the best out of their appointment with their doctor or health professional.

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?
  • 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?
  • 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 that:

  • 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, and
  • 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’s happening if I’m not sent my appointment details,’ and
  • ‘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: 21/11/2011

Next review due: 21/11/2013

The importance of information for patients

Having the right information at the right time can make a big difference to people with long-term conditions.

Media last reviewed: 14/05/2013

Next review due: 14/05/2015

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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Easy read and alternative formats

'Questions to Ask' is available in easy read (PDF), large print (PDF), braille, and audio versions.

In addition the leaflets have been translated into

All of these alternative formats (except braille) are available in electronic format which can be uploaded to any website, distributed further, or printed out for own purposes.

Order copies of the original leaflet or the braille, easy read, large print and audio versions via the DH Publication website at any time, or by phone 0300 123 1002, from 8am - 6pm Monday to Friday. Any queries or comments may be sent to by email to: questionstoask@dh.gsi.gov.uk