Talking with Your Doctor

Treatments and Surgery

Before you can make a decision about your care, you first need to understand your diagnosis and the different treatment options that may improve your health. It is important to know what each treatment involves and what it will and will not do. Ask your doctor to have the information about the treatment choices written down.

Weighing Your Options

Once you know your treatment choices, learn the pros and cons of each one. Ask your doctor what are the benefits and risks of each treatment option. For example, find out what side effects may occur, how long the treatment would take, and how likely it is that the treatment would work for you.

When deciding on a treatment, also think about how it will impact your overall life. For instance, if you are choosing between a few options, think about how each treatment's side effects may have an impact on daily activities that mean a lot to you. You may decide on an option that changes your life the least.

If you do not like any of the options, ask if there are other choices. If cost is a concern, ask the doctor if there is a less expensive option or if your insurance will pay for it. It is also important to ask how soon treatment should start. The doctor can work with you to make a treatment plan that meets your needs.

If You Have Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be the best treatment option for your health problem. If so, your doctor will refer you to a surgeon who can talk to you about the operation. Understanding what the surgery involves will help you get ready for it and can also help you decide if you want to try a different treatment option.

Here are some questions to ask your surgeon.

  1. What will be done during the operation?
  2. What are the risks? What problems may occur because of this surgery?
  3. What is the success rate of the surgery? How often does the surgery work?
  4. What kind of anesthesia will I have? Are there any risks for older people?
  5. Will I have to stay in the hospital overnight?

It is also important to know what you can expect after the surgery. Ask your surgeon about any kind of pain or discomfort you may have after the surgery. Also, find out how long it will take to recover and get back to your normal routine. It is also useful to know if there is anything special you will need to do to recover.

Getting a Second Opinion

Often when surgery seems to be the best choice, a patient will seek a second opinion from another doctor. Your insurance plan may require it. Doctors are used to patients asking for a second opinion and may be able to refer you to another doctor who can talk to you about your health problem. Hearing the views of two different doctors can help you decide what is best for you.