Ask your doctor tough questions during times of serious illness

If you or someone you love is very ill, don't be afraid to ask difficult questions.

You are the best advocate for your own health. A time of serious illness is not the moment to be shy or intimidated about asking questions.


Most health care professionals are now trained to encourage questions. Even if they don't ask, be bold, honest 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. Will you talk openly and candidly with me and my family about my illness?
  2. What are the options for care and the possible outcomes for those options?
  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?