Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Hearing that you or a loved one has leukemia or another blood-related disease is difficult, at best. Many treatment centers view the disease as one that the entire family has to cope with, and urge both the patient and family to ask questions, seek information, and become actively involved in the treatment protocol.
But as a patient or family member, you may not be aware of the types of questions you should ask. Our list of questions for your doctor and others at a treatment center may help you gain information that will be helpful in coping with what lies ahead in your treatment plan.
When the diagnosis is first made:
- How many tests support the diagnosis? Are there other tests that should be done? If so, when can they be done?
- What is the exact name of the disease? How common is it? Does it generally strike one group of people more than another?
- How slowly or quickly does the disease progress? If there are different stages of the disease, what stage am I in now?
- How will the disease affect my ability to do the things I routinely do each day?
- What can or should I tell family members or friends that they need to know right now?
- Where should I go for information about my disease?
About treatment options:
- What immediate treatment do you recommend for me?
- Are there options available to me for short-term treatment? If so, what are they? How do they compare? If you recommend one treatment over another, why is that?
- What will that treatment aim to do to the disease?
- What types of side effects might I experience from the treatment?
- What kind of cycle or schedule of treatment will I follow?
- Where will I receive the treatment?
- What options are available to me for long-term treatment (if needed)?
- How will the treatment affect my ability to work, attend school, travel, or do any of the other routines of daily life?
- What signs should I expect to see that show that the treatment is having a positive effect?
- Are there any research studies regarding treatment for my illness that would be beneficial for me to be part of?
- Who can help me connect with others who have, or have had, the same illness I have, in order to get some emotional support?
About treatment centers:
- How long has the treatment center been providing the recommended treatment for the disease I have?
- What is the success rate of the treatment center as it pertains to my disease?
- Is this a teaching hospital or treatment center? If so, should I expect to have interns and students as part of the medical team treating me?
- How can I compare this treatment center to others that treat the illness?
- Does the treatment center have a social worker or other support professionals available to me and my family?
- Where is the treatment center? Is it easy to get to?
- Can I have a tour of the treatment center and speak with the medical staff who would provide my treatment before I decide if this is the facility I wish to go to?
- Do I have the right to choose the treatment facility I want to be treated at?
- Is there someone at the treatment center who can help us with insurance issues?
About long-term treatment at a center:
- Approximately how long will I be at the treatment center?
- How does the center decide which staff members will work with me? Will I have a primary care nurse, for example, who provides most of my daily care, with other secondary and tertiary nurses who work with him/her to continue my care?
- How does the medical staff view my family s participation in my treatment and recuperation?
- If I am to be a distance from home during my treatment, are there facilities nearby where my family can stay that are inexpensive (like Ronald McDonald houses)? How can I find this out?
- If my family comes to the center on a daily basis, is parking available at a discounted rate? What is the daily parking rate?
- Are there inexpensive places to eat close to the treatment center for my family to use?
- While undergoing long-term treatment, what kinds of items from home will I be permitted to have with me? What am I expected to provide?
About insurance coverage and issues:
- How will I know whether or not my health insurance covers all of the procedures and medications I will need during my treatment?
- Who will submit medical bills to my insurance provider? Am I expected to, or will the treatment center do that?
- If the treatment center submits medical bills, will I receive a copy of what is submitted and what is paid?
- Will I receive itemized copies of medical bills submitted?
- Is there someone at the treatment center who can help with insurance issues and questions?
- I am covered under both my insurance policy through my employer, and my spouse s policy through his/her employer. Who will coordinate the benefits and help us figure out which coverage will pay for which expenses?
- I have heard that there are many expenses associated with (especially) long-term care that may not be covered by my health insurance. How can I find out what these might be? Are there other organizations I can apply to for financial assistance if I need it to help cover these expenses?