Questions to ask your Healthcare Team

When diagnosed with ALS, it may feel overwhelming to receive a lot of information from healthcare professionals.  Being prepared for meetings with the doctor and other members of the healthcare team can help in gathering the most information and gaining a better understanding of your diagnosis and treatment options.

The following is a list of questions to ask the doctor and other healthcare professionals.  It can be very helpful to bring another person along to the appointments.  A friend or family member can be supportive, provide an extra set of ears, and ensure all the questions are answered. Note taking or tape recording the meeting is a good way your friend or family member can help you capture all important information.  (if recording, be sure to ask for permission to record the meeting).

Click here for a printer friendly pdf version of this information (this would be helpful as a take-along for new pts to clinic)

Questions about a doctor’s experience

Questions about your diagnosis

Questions about treatment

Questions about side effects

Questions about diet

Questions about exercise

Questions about social concerns

Questions to ask myself

 

Questions about a doctor’s experience:

  • Where did you receive your medical training and complete your residency?
  • Have you ever cared for other people with ALS?
  • How many people with ALS do you care for each year?
  • Do you work with a healthcare team?  Who are they and what are their specialties?

Questions about your diagnosis:

  • What is my diagnosis?  What type of ALS do I have?
  • Is there a stage of my ALS?  What does this mean?
  • What are the symptoms that I may experience from this diagnosis?

Questions about treatment:

  • What treatment(s) do you recommend?  Why?
  • Are there any clinical trials available to me at this hospital?  At other hospitals? 
  • What are the benefits of each of my treatment options?
  • What are the risks of treatment?
  • What on-going evaluations will I need during my treatment?  How often?
  • What about other treatment options such as complementary and alternative therapies?
  • Please explain the medications being prescribed for me.  What does each one do?

Questions about side-effects:

  • What are the potential side effects of my medication options?  How likely are they to occur?
  • What medication(s) will be prescribed to help manage my side effects?  Do these medications have additional side effects?
  • How can I contact you in case of an emergency or if I have further concerns?

Questions about diet:

  • Will my diet need to be changed or modified? 
  • Do you have a dietitian or nutritionist that you recommend?

Questions about exercise:

  • What physical activities do you recommend? Are there any I should avoid?

Questions about social concerns:

  • Are there any lifestyle changes I should make?
  • Who can I speak with about my financial and/or insurance concerns?
  • What support programs are available for myself and my family?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does my doctor seem interested in my questions?  Is the doctor easy to communicate with?
  • Did I get enough time with the doctor to answer all of my questions?
  • Do I feel that my doctor cares about my medical outcome?
  • Will I be able to reach my doctor if I have any questions or concerns while being treated?
  • Is my doctor open to me seeking a second opinion?

Even if you feel comfortable with the answers a doctor gives, it might be advantageous to seek a second opinion.  Second opinions can be extremely valuable when making decisions about treatment.  They can help provide more information about treatment options as well as more confidence in the treatment plan.  Ultimately, many doctors welcome hearing the opinions of their colleagues.


 

The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter
321 Norristown Road - Suite 260, Ambler, PA 19002
215-643-5434

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