I'll admit I was a little surprised by this book, Top 5 Questions to ask Your Doctor: Important questions your doctor wants you to ask about your medical condition. I was surprised there were no answers to the questions. However, the book does give five (and more) questions to ask your doctor about a variety of medical problems, as well as some general questions to ask in situations such as hospitalization or surgery. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what to think of the approach. The authors, a physician's assistant and an internist, state that they didn't give answers because they really do want you to ask your doctor these questions so that your doctor can individualize the response to you. They even go so far as to suggest that you take the book with you to the doctor's office, and, once a diagnosis is made, pull it out to ask your questions. They even recommend you ask your doctor to keep copies in the exam rooms.
What kind of questions do they suggest? One of the conditions they cover is Pharyngitis (sore throat). Since most of us have experienced that malady, I'll use it for an example. First they explain that pharyngitis can have several causes and briefly lists them. Next, it gives the top five questions (my paraphrase):
- Do I need a throat swab (culture) to confirm the diagnosis?
- Do I need antibiotics?
- Is it contagious?
- What are the possible risks?
- What is the most likely cause?
I probably know more about medicine than most non-medical people. I can see that the questions sort of track the most likely causes--in other words, most sore throats are either a bacterial infection (including but not limited to strep) or viral. Throat cultures differentiate between them. Antibiotics treat bacteria, not viruses. Some of the questions seem to me to be obvious things for patients to ask (really the doctor shouldn't have to wait to be asked) and in other cases, the answers seem obvious, but maybe that's because I spend hours each week reviewing medical records.
If you feel you leave the doctor's office knowing less than you did walking in, and wish you had just asked...., this may be the book for you.