Starting a Conversation with Your Healthcare Team
Whether you or a loved one have been newly diagnosed with a serious illness, or have been told your disease has progressed, you will have to make decisions about treatment. You may have many thoughts and emotions at this time. This can be a time of uncertainty and it is common to feel worried. It can be helpful to ask your healthcare team questions about what to expect, how to plan and what support and resources are available to you and your family.
It can be helpful to ask your healthcare team questions about your illness so that you can best understand your treatment options. The following is a list of questions that may help you to make informed decisions about your plan of care. Please ask these questions if they are helpful in guiding you and your family, or ask whatever questions are important to you. It can be helpful to bring your list of questions to your medical appointment and record/write down the answers. If you have the support available, you can have someone accompany you to your appointments to listen and help record the details.
Some questions you may ask your Healthcare Team:
• Is the condition short or long-term? Reversible or irreversible?
• Is the Illness curable or incurable?
• What types of treatment are available to treat the illness/condition?
• Where is this treatment offered? Hospital? Clinic? Home?
• What is the goal of treatment (cure, manage pain/symptoms, improve function, extend life)?
• If the goal of treatment is to extend-life, how long does the average person live while receiving this treatment? What about those who do not receive this treatment?
• How often is this treatment successful?
• Does having this illness/condition impact the effectiveness of treatments/
interventions one might receive in an Intensive Care Unit?
• What are the common risks and side effects of this treatment? Are there any possible dangers connected to this treatment?
• Where and how often will I receive this treatment? How long do you expect this treatment to continue?
• Is there a financial cost associated with this treatment?
• When and how will you know if these treatments are working?
• When or why might these treatments stop? If this treatment stops, what are other treatment options?
• How will this treatment impact my life? What are the expected physical, emotional, psychological and practical issues?
• What type of additional support is available to me? What about my family?
• What are the physical, emotional, psychological and practical resources that
can help? How do I/my family access them?
It is important to take time to have conversations about your treatment with your healthcare team. Please ask questions that are important to you. Honest and open communication about your healthcare is so essential.