|Take responsibility for your health care by making decisions carefully
and learning about your medical condition and treatment options.
Choose A Doctor Carefully
CHECK whether your insurer includes the physician in its network.
GET INFORMATION about the doctor’s training and hospital affiliations from the doctor’s office.
FIND OUT if the doctor is board certified in his/her specialty area and whether there are any disciplinary actions against the doctor.
FIND OUT about the doctor’s office hours, back-up coverage to handle emergencies and how quickly you can make an appointment.
Manage Your Medications Safely
ASK the pharmacist whether the medicine is what your doctor prescribed.
ASK both your doctor and your pharmacist to tell you about your medication in understandable terms.
- What is the purpose of the medicine?
- How am I supposed to take the medicine and for how long?
- What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
- Is this medicine safe to take with my other medicines or dietary
- What food, drink or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
READ the labels and inserts of the medication to learn about side effects
and warnings. If you have any questions about the instructions, ask.
USE the same pharmacy or pharmacy chain for all medications, if possible.
BRING a list of all the medications you are taking if you are entering the
INCLUDE non-prescription medicines, herbal remedies and dietary supplements, such as vitamins.
SHOW the list of medicines to your doctor, surgeon, hospital pharmacist and hospital staff.
- If there isn’t time to make a list, bring the medications and keep them
in their containers.
- Make sure all your doctors know everything you are taking.
BRING all your medications and supplements with you to your doctor at least once a year, even if you are not being admitted to the hospital.
INFORM your doctors, pharmacist and hospital personnel about any existing
- While in the hospital, if a health care professional administers or replaces your IV solution, ask about the purpose and dosage.
Get the Results of All Tests and Procedures
CALL your doctor and ask for your results, whether they are taken in the
hospital or in your doctor’s office. Don’t assume that the results are fine if
you do not receive a follow-up call.
ASK questions about the results and what they mean.
Know Your Treatment Options
UNDERSTAND what your doctor is telling you about your medical condition.
LEARN as much as you can. Your doctor and/or library can help you find reliable information.
ASK your doctor to explain all of your alternative treatments and non-surgical options, including the potential risks of each one.
CONSIDER getting a second opinion and weigh the possible outcomes of each treatment option.
CHOOSE a hospital that has treated many patients with your condition or
the surgery you need. Patients have better results when they are treated in
hospitals that have had a lot of experience treating their condition.
When in the Hospital
Think about using a health advocate to ask questions, write down information and speak up for you so you can get the care and resources you need. A health advocate can be family, a friend, or a hired professional. Some hospitals employ patient advocates.
CONSIDER asking all health care workers that have direct contact with
you whether they have washed their hands. Hand washing prevents the
spread of infections.
ASK your doctor whether he/she will be visiting you in the hospital or whether there will be a hospitalist instead. Many hospitals are hiring hospitalists to provide around the clock inpatient care and substitute for your personal physician.
FIND OUT which hospital staff will develop your care plan.
- Who will be leading this function?
- How often will they meet to discuss your needs?
- How often will information be communicated to you and your
UNDERSTAND the treatment plan you will use at home.
- Learn about your medications.
- Find out when you can resume regular activities.
- What kind of follow-up care will you require?
- Will the hospital assist you in
finding someone to help with your care at home?
- What training will the hospital provide to continue your treatment at home?
- Ask for copies of results of medical and lab tests taken while in the hospital.
TAKE care of your health with regular appointments for routine
check-ups and preventive care.
TALK to your doctor about when you need preventive health screenings.
CREATE a healthy lifestyle by eating right, exercising and getting the proper amount of sleep.
BE PREPARED in case of emergencies. Prepare a Living Will, a legal document that describes how you want to be treated in case you are incapacitated or near death.
LEARN your rights and responsibilities when in the hospital.