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.
- What is my diagnosis?
- Will I need tests?
- What are my treatment options?
Tests, such as lung function tests, blood tests or scans
- What are the tests for?
- How and when will I get the results?
- How can my condition be treated? What do you recommend?
- Are there any side effects or risks? If so, what are they?
- How long will I need treatment for?
- How effective is the treatment?
- What will happen if I don’t have any treatment?
- What can I do to help myself?
- Do I need to change my daily routine?
- What will the new medication do?
- How do I take it?
- Does it have any side effects? Is it safe to take it alongside my other medications?
- What happens next?
- Where can I get more information?
- Is there a support group or any other sources of help?
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.
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.