Being A Proactive Consumer of Health Care
Have you ever left a doctor’s appointment feeling you have unanswered questions? Or perhaps feeling more confused than when you arrived? Many people experience this and unfortunately, the results could lead to poor health consequences. Your health is your most precious commodity yet people enter healthcare systems often assuming that they are always in good hands. In reality, mistakes can and do happen in medical environments, and the results can be devastating. That is why it is important for you to become actively engaged in your own medical care and in the care of your loved ones.
It isn’t necessary to go to medical school to understand basic health information. Being a proactive patient is crucial since utilizing the knowledge you gain, helps you make informed decisions and may help you recognize medical errors or improper care. Speak up, ask questions, follow up on test results, and get second opinions. Try following a few simple tips, such as asking your doctor for clarification when there is something you don’t understand. Bring a list of questions to your appointment and take notes during it. If English is not your first language, consider bringing a family member or close friend who speaks English fluently.
The Pledges of a Proactive Patient:
- I prepare for all doctors’ appointments by bringing a short list of concerns, an updated list of meds/supplements, and a list of questions in order of importance.
- I ask questions about my diagnoses and about medications including supplements.
- I bring a non-related friend to appointments to help take notes and ask questions if I have a serious health issue.
- I speak up with details about my symptoms regardless of test results.
- I call for lab results when no one calls me, to request a copy.
- I remember that medical mistakes can and do happen, and therefore take precautions to minimize the possibility.
With the year half over, summertime can be the time to review your state of health. While men may visit doctors less often than women, some women are so busy with life they may skip steps to properly take care of themselves. It is crucial for women and men to be their own advocates for their healthcare because we cannot rely on medical professionals to do all the work. In fact, with medical errors the third leading cause of death in the US today, we all need to take proactive measures for our health. Ask your doctor about which preventive screenings you should have. Your primary care physician should recommend health screenings that are appropriate for you, but many doctors fail to stay on top of every patient’s records. Routine health screenings are a cornerstone of preventive healthcare because they allow doctors to detect medical problems as early as possible—often before symptoms develop. With early detection, patients can receive prompt treatment to support their wellness. Common health screenings include tests for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose. There are also routine cancer screening tests such as mammography, colonoscopy, PSA testing, and Pap Smears which should be discussed with your doctor. And on routine dental visits, your dentist should check for any abnormalities in the mouth, tongue, and salivary glands. In addition to routine health screenings, it’s important to report unusual changes to your doctor.
Refusing to be a passive patient could save your life. If a medical mistake happens to you, be sure to seek a medical malpractice attorney immediately to learn your rights.