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Healthy Living

Taking a more active role in your health care

Research shows that people who are active participants in their medical treatment tend to get better results. Here are several ways to get more involved:

  • Tell your health care practitioner about all your medications. Inform your health care practitioner about prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as any dietary supplements (vitamins and herbs) that you are taking. Be sure your doctor also knows about any allergies or adverse reactions you have had to medications.

  • Ask for understandable information about your medications -- both when prescribed and when you receive them. At the pharmacy, confirm that the medication you receive is what your doctor prescribed.

  • Take medications as directed. If you have any questions about the instructions on the label, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

  • If you have a test, always ask about results. Don't assume that no news is good news.

  • Make sure that someone is in charge of your care, especially if you have many health problems or are in the hospital.

  • Ask a family member or friend to be your advocate -- someone who can help get things done and speak for you if you can't.

  • If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your health care practitioner and the surgeon all agree and are clear on exactly what will be done.

  • When you are discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor to explain the treatment plan you should follow. Learn about your medication and find out when you can return to regular activities.

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have a right to question anyone involved with your care.

One way to become more active in your health care is to establish a good relationship with your doctor. For other tips, see the Preventive Health Care Guidelines.

Adapted from "Blue Prints for health", Summer 2002

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