Medical Consultation Checklist

By
The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust,
Published April 9th, 2009  |  Last updated August 6th, 2012

What are the important questions to ask your doctor?

Planning is everything, and planning for your medical consultation is no exception. A small amount of time taken in advance of your appointment will improve the likelihood that both you and your doctor will get all of the information that you need and it will probably save time in the long run.

Modern medicine changes rapidly and it is important that you are properly informed about your condition and the latest treatment options. You should take a genuine part in the decision making process that relates to your own health but in order to be able to do this you need all the facts. You will have choices and these should be discussed. You do not want to leave the consultation worried in case you have not asked everything but if you do forget something, or if you think of further questions afterwards, you also need to know how you can contact your medical expert after the appointment has taken place.

Medical Consultation Checklist

Here is some basic advice to help you to prepare for and get the most from your medical appointment so as to ensure that you are in control of your own health:

Before you see the doctor or consultant do some basic homework by reading the latest articles on the totalhealth website and start to familiarise yourself with the latest medical approaches. If you have any previous diagnostic reports such as x-rays, pathology or MRIAn abbreviation for magnetic resonance imaging, a technique for imaging the body that uses electromagnetic waves and a strong magnetic field. reports, it might be helpful to take them with you.

… and then note down:

  1. Your symptoms and how long you have had them. 
  2. How you feel and whether this varies over a 24 hour period or over the space of a few days.
  3. Any medication you are already taking including the daily amounts.
  4. Whether there is any particular treatment that you have read or heard about that you would like to discuss.
  5. What you are hoping for and what your expectations might be from any available treatment?

The totalhealth medical consultation checklist of questions 

This list is for general guidance and is far from exhaustive. It will of course vary according to your own personal circumstances but it will help you to start thinking about the sorts of things that you may want to discuss with your doctor.

  • What do you think is wrong with me? Can you be specific? What do you think is the diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have.?
  • Are test(s) required? When will they be done? Do you have access to all the latest diagnostic facilities?
  • Why are tests necessary and what will they show or not show?
  • How and when do I get the results and what are the implications?
  • Treatment options – have we explored all potential options?
  • What treatments might be appropriate for me and why?
  • Can I avoid surgery?
  • Can I compare the relative risks and benefits of the options?
  • Do I need a referral or a second opinion?
  • Who specialises in the preferred treatment options / who are the relevant experts?
  • What track record can the specialist demonstrate and what is the success rate and post-operative infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. rate?
  • What’s the next step?
  • Where can I get more information? 
  • Is there a charity or support group that I can contact?
  • Is there any lifestyle change needed and what else can I do for myself?
  • Who should I call if I start to feel worse?
  • What is the post-treatment plan, and what help will be available?

In Summary

Are you happy that you have an accurate diagnosis, and if so are you aware of all the treatment options and what might be most relevant and / or appropriate for you? Will you be in the hands of the best medical team? And will they be there to provide you with any required follow-up?

Finally, your doctor will be genuinely happy to discuss all of these points with you and in as much detail as you require. Do not be hesitant or concerned about asking questions – it’s your health and your doctor will want you to be involved at every stage of the decision making process about what is to happen to you.

For further information on the author of this article, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, Mr Daryll Baker, please click here.

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