The Richmond Register

March 26, 2013

Be an active member of your health care team

By Gina Noe
Extension Agent

MADISON COUNTY — Are you an informed and active member of your health care team?

Do you prepare before your health care provider appointment?

Do you ask questions during the appointment and listen to answers and instructions?

After your appointment do you follow through with the instructions you were given?

Patients who talk to their health care providers tend to be happier with their health care and have better medical results. Being actively involved in your health care is one way you can make sure you get good quality treatment.

Before your appointment write down all the questions you have. Bring all your medicines including prescription medicines, vitamins, non-prescription medicines and supplements. Brown-bagging your medicines can help you and your doctor talk about them and find out if there are any problems.

Know your current medical conditions, past surgeries, illnesses and family history. Make your doctor aware of any allergies and adverse reactions you have to medicines.

During your visit explain your symptoms and health history. Ask questions and make sure you understand what the doctor is telling you and that you can follow his or her instructions.

It may be a good idea to ask a family member or friend to go to appointments with you.  They can help you remember what was said and what instructions were given.

If a medication is prescribed, ask for information in terms you can understand, both when they are prescribed and when you get them.

You should understand what the medicine is for, how it is taken and for how long, if there are any side effects, is the medicine safe to take with other medications, and if there are any food, drink or activities you should avoid while using the medicine.

If a treatment is recommended, ask about options. If a test is needed, make sure you understand how the test is done, what to do to get ready, and how you will get the results.

It is also appropriate to ask for written instructions and how to get more information such as websites and brochures.

Always follow your doctor’s instructions. If you are confused, or can’t remember the instructions after you get home, call the doctor’s office.

If your symptoms get worse or you have trouble following the instructions, you should also call the doctor.  

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have the right to question anyone who is involved with your care.

If you would like more information on being an active member of your health care team, sign up for Play It to Win: You and Your Health Care Team, to be conducted Wednesday, April 10, at noon in the Perkins Building on the Eastern Kentucky University campus.

The program is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to those who register by April 5. Call 859-623-4072 to register.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.