Questions about Tests

  1. Before your doctor has recommended a test: What preventive screening tests am I due to have?
  2. What is the name of the test you’re recommending?
  3. Why do I need this test?
    • To screen for a “silent” disease?
    • To confirm a working diagnosis?
    • To narrow the scope of possibilities?
  4. What will the test show and how will it aid in diagnosis or choice of treatment?
  5. Will I need other tests in the future, or will I need this test repeated?
  6. How accurate is the test?
    • How likely are false positive or false negative test results?
    • Can anything be done to maximize the accuracy of the test?
  7. How necessary is this test?
  8. How urgent is this test?
    • If the testing facility you have referred me to has a lengthy wait list, is there another where the test can be done sooner with the same quality of care?
  9. What are the side effects or risks of this test and how likely are they to occur?
    • Infection?
    • Allergic reaction?
    • Injury?
    • Do I have any risk factors that would make me more likely to experience complications?
    • Are there less risky tests that could be done first or that might provide the same results?
  10. What are the consequences of delaying or avoiding this test?
  11. If several tests are recommended:
    • Is there some advantage to doing all of the tests at one time or could they be done in stages, starting with the most important ones first?
    • Which tests are the most important?
  12. Where will the test be done?
  13. Is this test done on an outpatient or inpatient basis?
  14. What are the qualifications of the doctor or technician administering the test?
  15. How do I prepare for the test
    • Should I restrict food, alcohol, medications, exercise, or other activities before the test?
    • Are there other special instructions?
  16. How is it done?
    • How long will it take?
    • What equipment is used?
    • How likely am I to experience unusual feelings, pain, or sensations during or after the test?
    • Will I be given a sedative, or local or general anesthesia?
  17. Are there special instructions to follow after the test?
  18. How will I feel after the test?
  19. How will I know if a complication is occurring?
  20. What should I do if I experience a complication?
  21. How long after the test can I resume my normal activities?
  22. Are there less disruptive tests, in terms of time and discomfort, that could be done first?
  23. Do I call to schedule the test or will your office do it for me?
  24. When and how will I get the results and an explanation of what the results mean?
    • For tests with a reference range: What is the reference range your laboratory uses?
  25. What is the next step if the results are “abnormal”
  26. What is the next step if the results are “normal”?
  27. Will any medications I am taking interfere with the test results?
  28. How much do these tests cost?