How You Can Help - Take an Active Role in Your Care

  • You have the right to be involved in your care and treatment. Find out your options by asking questions. Answer the doctor’s questions completely and truthfully. If you believe you’ll have trouble sticking with a suggested treatment, say so.
  • Choose a primary care doctor to coordinate your care, and take time to build a good relationship with your doctor.
  • Each time you visit your doctor, prepare for the appointment. Be prepared to share information about your symptoms and all the medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements. Ask your doctor to thoroughly explain the diagnosis, medical tests and treatment options.
  • After the visit, take responsibility for your care. Follow through with the recommended treatment, and take all medications as directed for as long as required.
  • Avoid unnecessary medical tests and treatments. In certain situations the cost and risk of medical tests and treatments can outweigh the benefits. Sometimes tests are given simply as standard procedure. When you talk with your doctor, ask the following questions:
    • Is a surgery or medication necessary, or are there other options to try?
    • Can I make any changes, such as diet and exercise, which might help my condition?
    • Can my tests or surgery be done somewhere else besides the hospital?
    • What other treatments are available?
  • Before you see a specialist, understand what your primary doctor’s diagnosis is and what he or she wants the specialist to do. Keep your regular doctor involved and have a copy of tests results sent to him or her.
  • Avoid unnecessary hospitalizations when outpatient services are available. Consider less expense alternatives.
  • If it’s safe, wait. Sometimes doctors are afraid patients will think they’re not doing their best if they don’t take action right away. But, in many situations the old standby “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” is valid advice. Your doctor may consider it helpful to know you’re willing to let time and nature take their course, but only if it’s safe to do so.

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