5 questions many people never ask their doctor – but should

February 26, 2018 | by Mary Lou Mastro

When you take your car to a mechanic because there’s a light on that shouldn’t be or a strange noise coming from under the hood, do you just accept the mechanic’s recommended fix – or do you ask questions?

Or when you get an oil change and the technician tells you that you should really replace this filter or that part, do you consider the suggestion, then ask, “What happens if we don’t replace it?” Or, “How much is that going to cost me?”

Most of us ask questions before agreeing to services like auto work. Yet so many people see their doctor because something doesn’t feel right and neglect to ask those pertinent questions about their treatment.

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation wants everyone to start talking with their physicians more, including asking key questions about their care.

About five years ago, the ABIM Foundation created the Choosing Wisely campaign, dedicated to promoting conversations between physicians and patients and ensuring all medical care and testing is necessary.

The Choosing Wisely website includes a helpful section for patients where they can look up medical conditions and read recommendations on next steps and testing.

Healthcare costs in the U.S. are going up at an alarming rate. And almost a third of the excess cost in healthcare is because of unnecessary testing and procedures.

We’ve developed committees at both Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital specifically to analyze diagnostic testing and ensure we’re not doing anything that isn’t completely necessary.

But consumers also need to keep their eyes and minds open. Before you agree to a test, treatment or procedure, ask your doctor these questions:

  1. Do I really need this test or procedure?
  2. What are the risks and side effects?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. What happens if I don’t do this test/treatment/procedure?
  5. How much does this cost, and will my insurance pay for it?

Discuss your care with your physician. Become an advocate for your health – and your wallet. Make sure your doctor knows about other tests or procedures you’ve had, so prudent decisions can be made about future care.

Find a physician you feel comfortable with, confident in, and who partners with you in your personal health goals. We have hundreds of board-certified physicians to choose from.

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