“Questions are the answer”

October 20, 2011 —

My parents are of the generation that, when told something by their doctor, they usually don’t question it. Understandably, they believe that with all the education and credentials physicians have, whatever they say must be right.

Questioning one’s doctor, however, is a very good idea, says the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AHRQ says, “Asking questions and providing information to your doctor and other care providers can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction.”

Acknowledging the limited time of most medical appointments, AHRQ advises patients to prepare questions beforehand to facilitate the discussion. To that end, the agency provides a listof 10 questions to get one started:

Good health care requires a two-way conversation.

  • What is the test for?
  • How many times have you done this procedure?
  • When will I get the results?
  • Why do I need this treatment?
  • Are there any alternatives?
  • What are the possible complications?
  • Which hospital is best for my needs?
  • How do you spell the name of that drug?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?

“Your questions give your doctor and health care team important information about you, such as your most important health care concerns,” the AHRQ website notes. “That is why they need you to speak up.”

When you visit your doctor, what questions do you make sure to ask? If you are a health care provider, what questions do you wish your patients would ask you?


Endlessly curious and easily entertained, Barb Dietrich Boose loves being a member of the friendly, fascinating DMU community and its creative communications team. The University's publications director and DMU Magazine editor, Barb is always on the hunt for story ideas, good books and new recipes to try out on her family, such as her surprisingly tasty pork-and-bean bars.