TREATMENT DECISIONS: How to Choose?
If you or someone you know are facing a potentially serious health situation, this list could be helpful.
I located the core information online nearly ten years ago. Those hosting it on the website welcomed folks to share it. Then, I added to it from my own personal experiences and when I was with loved ones and clients.
- Before you and your doctor make a decision on a treatment course, it is important for you to understand why one treatment is recommended over any other. Look at the possible benefits, risks, side effects, and impact on your quality of life and match this information with your goals, needs, and values.
- Many have found it extremely useful to write out their questions and to take a notebook to appointments, asking and then writing answers to ALL questions. (See sample questions, below.)
- WHENEVER POSSIBLE, it is helpful for someone with a clear mind to come along on these appointments, to be a 2nd set of ears and eyes and to be sure all questions are asked and answered; this person can take notes, as well. It is not always easy for the “patient’s” thoughts to remain as organized as usual when in a medical appointment.
QUESTIONS to Consider Asking
You might ask some or all of these Questions. Maybe you can print this list to take with you.
- What is the goal of this treatment? To cure, to prolong life, or to relieve symptoms?
- What are the specific benefits we are hoping will happen?
- Will further testing be necessary?
- How will getting this treatment affect my quality of life?
- How will this treatment affect my length of life?
- If I refuse this treatment, what will happen & how will you continue to help me?
- What are my other options for treatment or care?
- What do you think is the best treatment for me and why?
- Is this the standard treatment for my health situation?
- If it is experimental, what requirement do I need to fulfill to receive it?
- What are the side effects and recovery time for this treatment?
- Are the side effects permanent or temporary?
- Is there a way to prevent or relieve these side effects?
- How and when will I know if this treatment is working?
- How much will the treatment cost and is it covered under my insurance?
- If I were your family member, what would you recommend and why?
- Where can I get further information about this treatment?
- Can I talk with someone who has been through it?
- – – VERY IMPORTANT & SENSIBLE QUESTION – -> How soon do I need to make a decision and why?
***If you have the experience of a family member or friend having this health challenge and/or this treatment, tell the doctor about that experience, including any concerns or fears you have. Find out if that person’s experience was the “norm” or not, and why.***
Do you have questions or comments to add to this list? Are there questions that have occurred to you after-the-fact that you might wish you had thought to ask? This sometimes happens to me.