There are many questions you need to ask whenever you receive a medical diagnosis. However, when that diagnosis is life-threatening or extremely serious, it brings other considerations to bear. Asking the additional questions below will give you the info you need to mobilize a health care team to fight a serious illness and to make some tough decisions that could bring peace later on:
- How is this illness likely to affect me? What kind of effect will it have on my family?
- What kind of decisions may I have to make as my illness progresses? What can I do to prepare for those decisions?
- What kinds of symptoms am I likely to experience in the future?
- What are the best and worst outcomes I can hope for or prepare for as I face this illness? Remember to ask about experimental and in-development treatments; the answer to this question could change tomorrow.
- If my disease is terminal, what is the longest and shortest amount of time I can expect to continue to live? Take either answer with a grain (or a wheelbarrow) of salt, by the way. A study of doctors' predictions has shown that we are often off, sometimes by years. Sometimes by decades.
- Will you promise to speak openly and honestly with me, and others whom I choose, about my illness, prognosis, and treatment alternatives?
- If I become unable to participate in my care or speak for myself, how will decisions be made for my care?
- If I designate a proxy, are there any specific decisions my proxy should be prepared to make in dealing with this illness?
- Will you help my family and me locate other resources such as spiritual support, social workers, or hospice care, if I need them?
- If I choose hospice care in the future, will you continue to care for me?
- If I am in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or at home, will you or someone you recommend make house calls to see me?
- What can I do now to help prepare to fight or manage my disease? What resources can you suggest that I explore?
- If an emergency arises, whom should we call?
- If I decide that I do not want to be resuscitated, how can I ensure that my wishes are carried out?
There are many questions you need to ask whenever you receive a
medical diagnosis. However, when that diagnosis is life-threatening
or extremely serious, it brings other considerations to bear.
Asking the additional questions below will give you the... More