Making the Most of your Consultation

Questions to ask at your appointment with a doctor or nurse

It is important that you get out of your appointment the answers to your questions.   The doctors and nurses at Dollar Health Centre believe in a 'shared-decision-making' approach, where you are an equal partner in discussions and decisions about your health.   Preparation before your appointment can help.

Before your appointment

  • Write down your two or three most important questions.
  • Write down details of your symptoms, including when they started and what makes them better or worse.
  • Ask a friend or family member to be with you, if you like.  We generally encourage this, however due to COVID-19, we would prefer one person in the consulting room if possible during face-to-face appointments.  

During your appointment

  • Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand. For example, "Can you say that again? I still don’t understand."
  • If you don’t understand any words, ask for them to be written down and explained.
  • Write things down, or ask a family member or friend to take notes.

What might be wrong? You could ask the following questions:

  • Can I check that I’ve understood what you said? What you’re saying is…
  • Can you explain it again? I still don’t understand.
  • Can I have a copy of any letters written about me?

What about any further tests, such as blood tests, scans and so on?

  • What are the tests for?
  • Who do I contact if I don’t get the results?
  • How and when will I get the results?

About what treatment, if any, is best for you

  • Are there other ways to treat my condition?
  • What do you recommend?
  • Are there any side effects or risks?
  • How long will I need treatment for?
  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • How effective is this treatment?
  • What will happen if I don’t have any treatment?
  • Is there anything I should stop or avoid doing?
  • Is there anything else I can do to help myself?

What happens next and who to contact

  • What happens next? Do I come back and see you?
  • Who do I contact if things get worse?
  • Do you have any written information?
  • Where can I go for more information, a support group or more help?

Before you leave your appointment

Check that:

  • You’ve covered everything on your list
  • You understand, for example ‘Can I just check I understood what you said?’
  • You know what should happen next – and when. Write it down.


  • Who to contact if you have any more problems or questions
  • About support groups and where to go for reliable information, and
  • For copies of letters written about you – you are entitled to see these.

After your appointment, don’t forget

Write down what you discussed and what happens next. Keep your notes. 

  • Book any tests that you can and put the dates in your diary.


  • "what’s happening if I’m not sent my appointment details"
  • "can I have the results of any tests?"  If you don’t get the results when you expect – ask for them. Ask what the results mean.
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