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

Discuss choices. There are different ways to manage many health conditions, especially chronic conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol. Ask what your options are.

Discuss risks and benefits. Once you know your options, ask about the pros and cons of each one. Find out what side effects might occur, how long the treatment would continue, and how likely it is that the treatment will work for you.

Consider your own values and circumstances. When thinking about the pros and cons of a treatment, don’t forget to consider its impact on your overall life. For instance, will one of the side effects interfere with a regular activity that means a lot to you? Is one treatment choice expensive and not covered by your insurance? Doctors need to know about these practical matters and can work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.

Questions To Ask About Treatment

Here are questions to ask about treatment:

  • Are there any risks associated with the treatment?
  • How soon should treatment start? How long will it last?
  • Are there other treatments available?
  • How much will the treatment cost? Will my insurance cover it?

If You Have Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be the best treatment for your condition. If so, your doctor will refer you to a surgeon. Knowing more about the operation will help you make an informed decision about how to proceed. It also will help you get ready for the surgery, which makes for a better recovery.

Ask the surgeon to explain what will be done during the operation and what reading material, videos, or websites you can look at before the operation.

Find out if you will have to stay overnight in the hospital or if the surgery can be done on an outpatient basis. Will you need someone to drive you home? Minor surgeries that don’t require an overnight stay can sometimes be done at medical centers called ambulatory surgical centers.

Questions To Ask Your Surgeon

Here are some questions to ask your surgeon.

  • What will be done during the operation?
  • What are the risks? What problems may occur because of this surgery?
  • What is the success rate of the surgery? How often does the surgery work?
  • What kind of anesthesia will I have? Are there any risks for older people?
  • Will I have to stay in the hospital overnight?
  • Will I be in pain? How long will the pain last?
  • When will I be able to go home after the surgery?
  • What will the recovery be like? How long will it take to feel better?
  • How will the surgery affect my health and lifestyle?
  • What will happen if I don't have the surgery?
  • Is there anything else I should know about this surgery?

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.