Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. Some specific tips based on the latest scientific evidence about what works best follow:
- Be an active member of your health care team. Take part in all decision making about your health care.
- Make sure all of your doctors know about everything you are taking including prescription and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
- Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines. This will help you avoid getting a medicine that can harm you.
- When your doctor writes a prescription, make sure you can read it. If you can't read the handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.
- Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand both when they are prescribed and when you receive them.
Ask Questions like
- What is this medicine for?
- How am I supposed to take it, and for how long?
- What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
- Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
- What food, drink or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
- Double check when picking up your medication from the pharmacy that it is indeed the type your doctor prescribed.
- If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels, ask.
- Ask your pharmacist for the best device to measure your liquid medicine. Also, ask questions if you're not sure how to use it.
Research shows that many people do not understand the right way to measure liquid medicines. For example, many use household teaspoons, which often do not hold a true teaspoon of liquid. Special devices, like marked syringes, help people to measure the correct dose.
- Ask for written information about the side effects that your medicine could cause.
- If you have a choice, choose a hospital at which many patients have the procedure or surgery you need.
- If you are in a hospital, consider asking all health care workers who have direct contact with you whether they have washed their hands.
- When you are discharged from the hospital ask your doctor to explain the treatment plan you will use at home. This includes learning about your medicines and finding out when you can get back to your regular activities.
- If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor and your surgeon all agree and are clear on exactly what will be done.
- Speak up if you have questions or concerns - you have a right to question anyone involved with your care.
- Make sure that someone, such as your personal doctor, is in charge of your care.
- Make sure that all health professionals involved in your care have important health information about you.
- Ask a family member or friend to be there with you and to be your advocate (someone who can help get things done and speak up for you if you can't.)
- Know that "more" isn't always better. It is a good idea to find out why a test or treatment is needed and how it can help you. You could be better off without it.
- If you have a test, don't assume that no news is good news. Ask about the results.
- Learn about your condition and treatments by asking your doctor and nurse and by using other reliable sources.