by Kim Keller
Whether you’re dealing with the health of a loved one or yourself, it’s essential to actively participate in the healthcare process. Being prepared for a doctor’s visit is a great place to start.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) — one of the agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services — says their mission is to “improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.” Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, the director of the agency, explains that “our studies were revealing that, oftentimes, medical errors and avoidable harms to patients are the result of poor communication between clinicians and patients.” Consequently, the AHRQ has developed a list of questions that we should all know to ask our doctors.
- 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?
There is a lot of valuable information on the AHRQ website. One of our favorite features is the interactive section called The Question. It’s simple to use and smart way to get ready for the doctor. Here’s how it works: You select the reason you’re seeing the doctor — for example, a change in medication — then the next screen gives you a variety of intelligent questions to ask, which you can print out. The Question Builder makes it easy to be prepared for your next doctor appointment.