5 Tips to be an Effective Advocate for Your Own Health

If medical error is to become a thing of the past, the power lies in the hands of the patients. Find out what you can do to make healthcare safer.

5 Tips to be an Effective Advocate for Your Own Health

TAKING CHARGE: Managing your own health care is largely up to you – no matter how eminent your physician.

1. Become a more informed health care consumer

  • Seek information about illnesses or conditions that affect you.

  • Research options and possible treatment plans.

  • Choose a doctor, clinic, pharmacy, and hospital experienced in the type of care you require.

  • Ask questions of your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or benefits plan coordinator.

  • Seek more than one opinion.

2. Keep track of your history

  • Write down your medical history.

  • Write down the names and phone numbers of your doctors, clinics, and pharmacies for quick and easy reference.

3. Work with your doctor and other health care professionals as a team

  • Share your health history with your care team.

  • Share up-to-date information about your care with everyone who’s treating you.

  • Make sure you understand the care and treatment you’ll be receiving and ask questions if you’re not clear.

  • Pay attention, and if something doesn’t seem right, call it to the attention of your doctor or health care professional.

  • Discuss any concerns about your safety with your health care team.

4. Involve a family member or friend in your care

  • If you’re not able to observe or participate fully in your care, ask a family member or friend to assist.

  • They can accompany you on appointments or stay with you, help you ask questions, understand care instructions and suggest your preferences.

5. Follow the treatment plan agreed upon by you and your doctor

  • Be sure you receive all instructions verbally and in writing that you can read and understand.

  • Ask questions about any instructions that are confusing or unclear.

  • Take medications exactly as prescribed.

  • Use home medical equipment and supplies only as instructed.

  • Report anything unusual to your doctor.

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