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Why ask health questions?

Asking medical questions can improve your care and your health.

How many times have you been prescribed a medication only to realize later you’re unsure about possible side effects? Or the correct dose? Or the potential risk of taking the new medication with other medicines you already take? Have you ever felt too embarrassed—or too rushed—to ask questions about your medication?

If you’ve experienced this, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly half of Americans take a prescription medicine, and more than 24% of Americans take three or more. Communication with your team of healthcare professionals is critical. For instance, this can include physicians, nurses, pharmacists or medical assistants. Yet, too few patients speak up or know the right questions to ask.

Questions are the answer. Your health depends on good communication.

Quality healthcare is a team effort. You play an important role. One of the best ways to communicate with your healthcare team is by asking questions. Your doctor wants your questions. Certainly, doctors know a lot. However, they don’t know everything about you or what is best for you. Your questions give your doctor important information about you. For example, have you asked about your most important healthcare concern? That is why you need to speak up. In other words, asking questions can improve your care.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

You’re a key player on your own medicine education team. Be proactive in asking medical and health questions. Seek clarity and get the information you need.

Tips to guide your conversation with your healthcare provider

  1. Talk to your healthcare provider. Ask questions about the benefits and potential risks of prescription medicines you take.
  2. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.
  3. Tell your healthcare provider about any allergies or sensitivities that you may have.
  4. Read and follow the information and directions on medicine labels. Be sure to ask if you don’t understand the information on the label.

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