Patient Safety: Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider

ask your doctor

Medical errors are an unfortunate reality that can occur due to basic human blunders or lack of communication.  While your health care provider is likely taking every precaution to ensure your safety and quality of treatment, mishaps can still occur.  As a patient, this means that you must play an active role in your own care and take steps to minimize the likelihood of experiencing a medical error.  In most cases, this can be accomplished through engaging health care providers in communication and asking the appropriate questions.  Here are a few to keep in mind as you speak with your physician.

What is my Diagnosis?

When you have a diagnosed medical condition, understanding the specifics of that condition is vitally important.  In many cases, there are varying levels of a diagnosis, and each may have its own treatment protocols and recommendations.  Ask your physician to be exact when delivering information regarding your condition, including its medical terminology.

What Medications Should I be Taking?

Between prescription medications, over-the-counter options, vitamins, and supplements, the number of medication options available to patients can be overwhelming.  And, while some of these medications may be greatly beneficial to your health and quality of life, others may be dangerous for you to take.  Be sure your physician clarifies which medications you should take, which ones you should avoid, and how your medicines should be taken. 

How Will my Medications Interact?

Along with precisely which medications you need to take, it is also important to understand how they may interact with others you are already taking.  This is also why you should bring a list of all medications and supplements you are using to every doctor’s appointment.  This will ensure that you avoid any potentially dangerous, or even deadly, drug interactions.

What Sort of Follow-up Visits/Treatments do I Need?

If you have a diagnosed medical condition, additional appointments and treatments may be needed to properly manage your health.  Your physician will likely explain these explicitly, but it is still always a good idea to ask.  Doing so can help you be confident that you are taking all the steps necessary to keep yourself well and minimize complications.

What do These Medical Terms Mean?

Some doctors have a tendency to speak in medical jargon and terminology.  While it is important to understand your diagnosis, it is also important to fully understand everything your physician is telling you.  If a word or phrase goes over your head, ask for clarification.  There is no need to be embarrassed.  Your doctor is used to communicating with other medical professionals and may occasionally forget to use less technical terms.

While your doctor may be the medical professional, it is still important that you actively participate in your own health care.  This means following your doctor’s orders and asking the necessary questions to keep yourself fully informed.  By doing so, you can be confident that you are doing everything in your power to keep yourself strong and healthy.

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff