How To Decide On Medical Treatment: 4 Questions to Ask Your Doctor

You’ve had symptoms and after a period of time trying to remedy the situation you decide to go to the doctor. Upon closer inspection the doctor begins asking questions, conducting a physical exam and will probably order some tests. When the results come back and the doctor completes the equation if you are ill the next chapter in your life begins.

It would be wonderful if everything could be healed with over-the-counter remedies, but that’s not the case. Scientists have spent countless hours and billions of dollars working on treatments that will restore your health. We have to remember that every treatment has a price both literally and figuratively. When making decisions about your healthcare following a life-altering health diagnosis; consider asking the following questions as part of your dialogue with the doctor.

1. Based on my diagnosis: why are you suggesting this medication/treatment plan?

Every person is different and so is your disease process. You’re asking your doctor/healthcare partner to explain why out of the myriad of options why did they choose this particular option. Most doctors will tell you that this is the “gold standard” of treatment. The "gold standard" is the term used for the treatment use as a first line of defense based on cumulative data.

The "gold standard" has been proven to be the most effective, but you want to know are all your test results and exam findings in alignment with the data recommending this particular treatment. Don’t leave things to chance. It’s important for the doctor to understand that you’re not challenging their competence, but trying to get a handle on the details of your specific diagnosis.

2. What are the pros and cons of treatment?

It’s crucial to understand that depending on your diagnosis and prognosis, no treatment is considered a treatment option. Remember that doctors take an oath to "do no harm". Think holistically when having this conversation. Consider how the treatment will impact your life. Once you have the information it’s important to look at the list and decide the concessions you’re willing to make.

3. What’s the efficacy rate of the treatment?

The efficacy rate is the success rate of a medication or treatment protocol. Keep in mind the doctor is working of statistics, but that’s the most conclusive data available. You may ask the question and frame it in a way that you ask the doctor "within your practice what has been the efficacy rate with the prescribed treatment plan?" Once you have the information you can decide whether to proceed or seek out other options.

4. What impact on my daily living will I experience?

Every treatment has some side effect. The side effects may be mild or they may be severe. You need to know this ahead of time so that your decision is based on both health and wellness vs. your quality of life.

At this point gather the information and have a candid discussion with those close to you. Remember that your illness will impact them as well and if they need to support you they should know what that will entail. Getting their support will help you choose a more aggressive form of treatment that will have more prominent side effects, but if it saves your life that’s a trade-off many are willing to make.

These questions are only suggestions and not the only deciding factors when choosing a treatment options. The important thing is to keep the dialogue with your doctor open and honest. Limiting surprises in treatment will be comforting and will empower you to move forward on your journey to wellness.