Ask your doctor tough questions during times of serious illness

Talking with the hospice nurse

You are the best advocate for your own health. A time of serious illness is not the time to be shy about asking difficult and honest questions.


Most health care professionals are trained to encourage questions. Even if they don't ask, be bold and speak up. If it's a crisis and you forget a question, most providers have online forms for sending questions or concerns.


  • Use a notebook or note app on your phone to write questions that arise before your visit.
  • Having a family member with you during parts of your visit can help.


Seven suggestions for honest conversations with your doctor.


  1. What are the options for care and the possible outcomes for those options?
  2. Please talk openly and candidly with me and my family.
  3. What will you do if I have pain or other uncomfortable symptoms?
  4. Will you help us find professionals with special training when we need them? For example, medical, surgical and palliative care specialists, faith leader or social workers.
  5. If I reach a point where I am too sick to speak for myself, how will you make decisions about my care?
  6. Will you still be available even when I’m sick and close to the end of my life?
  7. What are the costs to me or my family?