Getting the best from your doctor

Have you ever come out of your doctor’s feeling that you haven’t got the answers you needed?

Our tips can help you get the most from an appointment with your doctor.

In this information, we talk about your doctor. But use our tips when you meet other health care professionals, such as a nurse or physiotherapist, too.

Before your appointment

Before you go to your appointment, take a little time to think about what you want to tell your doctor. Think about when symptoms started or any recent changes in your condition and how they affect your life.

Don’t forget to say how you feel. It’s important to say what’s concerning you and what you think is causing the problem.’

During your appointment

Take a list

Write down your questions. Ask the ones most important to you first. If you don’t think you’ll get through all your questions in one appointment, ask for a longer appointment or arrange a second one a few days later.

To get you started, have a read through the following ideas for questions.

Diagnosis

Tests, such as lung function tests, blood tests or scans

Treatment

Medication

What next?

Take a friend

Take a friend or relative with you if this makes you feel more comfortable. They can also help you to understand and remember what your doctor said.

Take a list of your medication

Include prescribed treatments and any over-the-counter medications you use, as well as vitamins and complementary therapies such as massage or homeopathic remedies.

Make notes

Write down the important points that your doctor tells you. If you don’t understand any words, ask for them to be written down and explained to you.

Make sure you understand

If you get test results, ask your doctor to explain them. If there’s anything you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask again.

What if you’ve got questions later?

Before you leave, ask who you can contact if you have any more problems or questions. Find out where you can get reliable information about what you’ve discussed. Ask for copies of letters written about you – you are entitled to see them.

Most GP surgeries have a nurse, health visitor or counsellor who may have more time to talk through your particular problem. Ask the receptionist for more information. Your pharmacist will also be happy to answer questions about your medication.

Last medically reviewed: September 2015. Due for review: September 2018

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.