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Ten Questions To Ask Your Doctor

It's so hard anymore to get time with anyone — especially your doctor. So you really need to be prepared to make the most of each appointment.

Take heart. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has come up with a cheat sheet you can bone up on or even take with you to help during the visit.

Now, it's true that some doctors wince when patients show up with sheafs of Internet printouts. But, as the AHRQ points out, a good conversation between doctor and patient can make a big difference in the quality of care. So don't be bashful.

Plus, it would be pretty hard for anyone to argue that the standard questions suggested by AHRQ aren't reasonable and relevant.

So, here we go:

  1. What is the test for?
  2. How many times have you done this procedure?
  3. When will I get the results?
  4. Why do I need this treatment?
  5. Are there any alternatives?
  6. What are the possible complications?
  7. Which hospital is best for my needs?
  8. How do you spell the name of that drug?
  9. Are there any side effects?
  10. Will this medicine interact with medicines that I'm already taking?

Of course, everybody's situation is different. So AHRQ has a handy online tool to build a question list that's tailored to your appointment and needs.

In any event, don't be afraid to ask about the cost of the treatment or test your doctor recommends. Depending on what you find out, go right ahead and haggle over the price or ask about less expensive options. You might be surprised by what you can get.

Finally, even after all these years I can't help myself from asking, "Is this going to hurt?"

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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