Health Care Challenge: Seven Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

Your health is in your hands. It pays to know how to work with your health care provider.
Your health is in your hands. It pays to know how to work with your health care provider.

I’m grateful when my patients ask intelligent, well-thought-out questions during their office visits.

I love it when a patient does thorough preparation, researching their problems before they talk to me. It makes our conversations more informative and productive, and means I don’t have to ask all the questions or to deliver a lecture from my own point of view.

Here are seven questions I believe you should consider asking your doctor during an office visit.

  1. “Do I really need to take this test?”

Unnecessary testing is a leading cause of spiraling healthcare costs in this country.

With the rapid rise in care-related lawsuits, physicians are feeling a need to protect themselves by eliminating mistakes in diagnosis and treatment. As a result, many doctors have fallen into a habit of over-testing “just in case.”

Another important and revealing question to ask is whether the proposed treatment might change, depending on the test results.

  1. “What are my treatment options? How effective is each option, and what are the benefits and risks?”

These questions are due diligence to “cover the bases.” Your own research will likely give you a good sense of the various approaches for treating your condition.

  1. “How many patients have you treated with my exact condition?”

When it comes to treating a specific condition, I cannot overstate the importance of experience. Would you rather see a physician who’s treated 1000 cases of insomnia, or someone who’s seen just 10?

  1. “Can you perform my procedure in the morning?”

Now here’s a surprise! A Duke University study found that patients who had their operations in the morning were four times less likely to have complications.

Marcel Hernandez, ND, of Pacific Naturopathic in Mountain View, California
Dr. Marcel Hernandez

The choice is between a fresh medical team who are wide awake and ready to start the day, or a stressed-out team who are fatigued from performing procedures all morning and suffering the after-lunch snoozies.

  1. “What’s the long-term outlook with or without treatment?”

Many health conditions are self-limiting, that is, they resolve without treatment. Or they don’t actually need to be treated right away. You might want to take time to do some personal research about your condition before the procedure.

Also, your healthcare team may be better able to help you if they take time to ponder the diagnosis and possible treatments, perhaps after further testing. Taking a step at a time can dramatically alter the outcome.

  1. “How do you feel about alternative and complementary medicine?”

Be suspicious of healthcare practitioners who’ve closed their minds about alternative treatments. No single system of medicine can claim a monopoly on all of the viable options for treating every condition. The softer, less-invasive approaches of alternative and complementary medicine can often ensure a more effective and less harmful approach for resolving your condition.

  1. “Are you comfortable being part of my health care team?”

Remember the old saying, “A wise person has many counselors.” It’s especially true when dealing with health care issues – several minds are almost always better than one.

If your physician feels he has all the answers and his approach is the only viable one – frankly, you should at least consider finding another provider.

Finally, remember that you, not the doctor, are ultimately in charge of your health care. In truth, your doctor is a consultant you’ll pay to provide a service. If you surrender your role, you alone will be responsible for the outcome.

For more on Dr. Marcel’s work, click HERE.