- Do you have another doctor you send your patients when you aren’t available?
- Who is on call with what system during off hours?
- Which local hospital do you comply with if any, and which hospital do you suggest for my needs?
- When do you rely on another doctor or specialist?
- How many people have you successfully taken off painful medications?
Qs for the Doc
- Always clarify the problems that you need to treat.
- Know the time pressure for this procedure.
- Is the surgeon a “high volume” surgeon.
- What are the alternatives?
- How many complications are there? How many have you seen?
- How often does the actual surgeon visit after surgery?
- What are the side-effects of this medication? (don’t be satisfied with 3 or 4)
- What are the long term effects (nowadays psychological tests are only following patients for 6-8 weeks)?
- Remind the doctor about any strong history of the past when symptoms began (like relative’s death, rape etc.). These occurrences generally alter all testing.
After being clear that you have a cancer diagnosis, answers to these questions will give you confidence.
- Does the therapy you are suggesting work?
- If it does work, what should I expect as side effects? Can this treatment give other cancers?
- How are you managing side effects?
- Will I have life changes?
- How are you or the hospital gaining from these treatments?
- I would like to talk to five of your patients with the same diagnosis and identical demographics (age, sex).
What is the trick to asking questions?
Reactive patients ask because:
1) Need for information- Not quite informed so we ask a question hoping the doctor doesn’t think we are stupid. Really, the doctor didn’t tell us enough information
2) Need to be noticed- Got the basic idea, but need to show the doctor we are in the know and want as much info as possible
3) Hopelessness- Nerves took over so what the heck, ask
4) We can’t get out what is on our mind- So we just ask questions hoping the doctor picks up the non-verbal points to give the proper explanation
Proactive patients ask:
With the purpose of making a likeminded team.
Good questions are a way to develop a new “patient doctor” team. The questions are just used as a way to lead the conversation. Conversation then develops into a give and take, viewed like an interlocking zipper that continues to connect as you pull. The new team needs to pull together to zip up. The good questions are now part of therapy, like a closure to all procedures. Once there is chemistry, with questioning and proper responses, there is willingness towards one another to work together.
Tip: Asking good questions to make a team doesn’t mean you have chosen a doctor, it just gives you the best chance to have a feel which direction you will be led in.