You’re part of the team for safer health care. The more you know, the safer your health care will be. There are five important tips to keep your health care safer:
- Give information about your medical history and any medications you are taking to your health-care team
- Get information about your care and medication. If you don’t understand something, ask.
- Bring a friend to help you ask questions, listen, and understand.
- Keep it clean by asking visitors and caregivers to clean their hands before every visit.
- Know what to do after every appointment, hospital stay or doctor office visit. If you don’t understand something, ask.
1. Give information
You are the one who knows the most about your health. Tell your health-care team your medical history, even if you think they already know, or if you think it may not be important. They need to know:
- if you are not feeling well right now or have been sick lately
- if you are taking any medicine: prescriptions (from your doctor) and other ones like vitamins, herbal remedies, food supplements, patches, drops, or inhalers; keep an up-to-date list, and bring it with you
- if you have had any surgery or recent stays in the hospital, or if you have seen other doctors or gone somewhere else for care
- if you have been told you have an illness, condition, or disease
- if you have a family history of illness, conditions, or disease
- if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use recreational drugs
- if you have any allergies, or had a bad reaction to any medicine, food, animals, dust, etc.; this can include breathing trouble, hives, rashes, headaches and feeling sick
- if you have fallen in the past, or think you may fall easily
Write down your medical information, keep it with you and share it with your health-care team.
2. Get information
It is your health. If you don’t understand what someone is telling you about your health, or a treatment, test or procedure, ask questions about it. Ask questions about:
- your medicine, especially if you do not know what it is for
- changes to any medicine you are on, what side effects to watch for, and if your medicines should or should not be taken together
Ask your health-care providers who they are when they come into your room. Ask questions if you believe you have been confused with someone else.
3. Bring a friend
It's helpful to have a family member or friend with you when you talk to your health-care team. They can help ask questions and listen with you. If you want your health information to be shared with a family member or friend, tell your health-care team. If you need an interpreter, ask if there are any available, or bring someone who can interpret for you.
4. Keep it clean
Hand washing and/or using cleansing gels is an important way to help prevent the spread of infection. You can ask your health-care providers or visitors if they have washed their hands before touching you. If friends or family want to visit you, and they feel sick themselves, ask them to stay home.
5. Know what to do
It's important to know what to do after your visit, appointment, or hospital stay. Ask your health-care team about your care at home:
- know what signs and symptoms to watch for, and what to do if you have concerns
- know what medicine to take and what medicine to stop
- know where and when your next visit, test, or appointment is booked