LiveSmart: Be Your Best Patient Advocate in 2019

When you’re in a hospital gown, you may not feel like a superstar athlete. But when you are treated at a doctor’s office, hospital, or other health care facility, remember: You’re the captain of your care team.

In order to have the best possible outcome, you must take an active part in the process. What attributes are key to being your own patient advocate? You should:

Set Your Priorities
Why are you seeing the doctor? What is the most important reason for the visit? If there are other reasons, don’t neglect them, but let the doctor know which ones are less important. Making a list can be helpful.

If you were referred by another doctor, make sure you know why. This allows the doctor you are seeing to focus on the primary reason for your visit, but still address other things that may be of concern to you.

Be Prepared
Make sure the doctor has all the records that will be needed. Bring a current list of medications you are taking, or your medication bottles. If you have difficulty remembering details, bring a family member who knows your medical history.

Don’t Over-Prepare
Many people find it helpful to learn about their disease or symptoms by researching them on the computer. Basic background information can be very helpful in allowing you to absorb what your doctor will discuss with you. But too much information can be confusing, and not all information that is available is correct.

Your best source of information is your doctor. If you’d like to continue to educate yourself, ask your doctor for guidance on where to find the best information.

Ask Questions
Medical information can be very complicated and your doctor knows this. If you do not understand something, ask for a clarification. You are entitled to this.

Feel Free to Disagree
If you do not feel comfortable with a recommendation, say so. If you explain your concerns, your doctor will have the opportunity to address them and will understand you better.

Did the pharmacist tell you about side effects you were not expecting? Call your doctor before deciding not to take the prescription that was prescribed. Are you having second thoughts after leaving the doctor’s office? Call the doctor to talk about it. Your doctor will appreciate the opportunity to reinforce the message that was discussed at your visit.

Good doctors and good patients go together. They both realize the importance of sound information, evidence-based treatment and direct and effective communication.

If you or a member of your family needs a physician or information about other St. Peter’s services, call the St. Peter’s Physician Referral & Information Line at 518-525-2CARE (518-525-2227).

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