Checklist Every Patient Should Have
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How to Choose a Primary Care Doctor:
• Ask for recommendations from local doctors or nurses.
• Ask friends and family.
• Use the first appointment to see if the doctor is a good listener.

What to Ask a Doctor After a New Diagnosis:
• Would he or she recommend a specialist?
• Will further testing add anything to care?
• What are good alternatives to the main treatment?
• Is there more information available from the hospital/doctor?
• Are there nonprofit organizations for this condition?

How to Get a Second Opinion for Major Procedures, Treatment or Therapy :
• If your doctor has explained things clearly and you feel comfortable, it may not be necessary.
• If insurance doesn’t cover a second opinion, you can pay for one on your own.
• To find a reliable second opinion:

• Ask generalist for referrals.
• Use sites like pubmed.gov for rare conditions.
• Search for websites and societies that treat the condition.
• Watch out for marketing.
• Remember “centers” are created to attract business, but one doctor doesn’t equal a “center.”
• Top scores in magazine ratings are often paid for.

What to ask when you're prescribed medication:
• What's the probability of something bad happening if you don’t take medicine?
• Is there another medicine with fewer side effects?
• What's the difference in a lower cost alternative?

What to ask a surgeon before going under the knife:
• How many surgeries does he or she perform in a year?
• Is there a less invasive surgery?
• What are the top three surgery risks?
• How long will you be in the hospital?
• Do you need to stay in town after the discharge?
• What will happen if you don't have surgery?
• Run an older doctor’s advice by a younger doctor, who may know newer techniques.

What to do if you're diagnosed with cancer:
• Research online for more information about your particular cancer.
• Ask doctor for primary treatment options, and if there’s a significant chance of cure or prolonging life.
• Ask for detailed list of risks and benefits of treatment.
• Ask if it’s hereditary and if your family should be tested.
• Go to clinicaltrials.gov to learn more about trials.

• Clinical trials have cutting edge treatment but have potential benefits and risks .
• Ask for clear list of risks and benefits
.
• Ask how you’d be treated if not in the trial.
• Ask if insurance will cover it.
• Ask to see the study protocol.

• Alternative therapies may have benefits but are less well-defined. Make sure you understand the risks.

Related:
How to avoid being over-treated
Top 10 procedures every patient should question
What to do if diagnosed with a psychiatric condition
How to get your doctor's attention
Four signs you need a new doctor