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An Involved Patient

An Involved Patient Can Be A Healthier Patient!

Here’s how to help yourself:

1. Ask a family member or friend to be your advocate. Your advocate can ask questions you might not think of while dealing with your medical condition.

2. Ensure there is one person, such as your personal doctor, who is in charge of your care.

3. Always tell your health care providers (nurses, doctors, dentist, and pharmacist) about every medication you take. This includes all prescription and over the counter medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements. Medications can sometimes produce different effects based on whether or not other medications are being taken.

  • Make sure you can read handwritten prescriptions (if you can’t read them, your pharmacist may not be able to either);
  • If you don’t recognize a medication (either from the pharmacy or provided by a caregiver), verify the medication is for you and ask about its purpose; and
  • If you are given an IV, ask the nurse to turn the label so you can read it. Also ask how long it should take for the liquid to run out.
  • Medication can have more than one name (brand name/generic – like products at the grocery store). The names are listed on medication sheets you receive from the hospital and pharmacy.
  • Take only the medications listed on your discharge instruction sheet.
  • If you have medication at home, check the medication against the discharge instruction sheet to make sure you have the right medication, the right dose, and that you are taking the medication at the right time.
  • Fill your medications at the same pharmacy.
  • Keep an updated list of your medications with you at all times.
  • Do not put your pills in an old bottle. Unless you are using a pill box, keep all medications in the original containers.
  • Know the name, dose and purpose of each medication you are taking. Do not rely on the color/shape of your medications, as these can change often with different brands.
  • Take your medication at the same time each day.
  • Do not change the times or doses of your medication without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not give your medication to anyone else.
  • Some medication cannot be taken on an empty stomach or cannot be taken with certain foods. Know how you are to take your medications.
  • Do not crush, chew or cut medication without checking with the pharmacist first.
  • Ask your healthcare provider what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

4. If tests are ordered, ask why the tests are necessary.

5. If you have a test, don’t assume that “no news is good news.” Ask for the results.

6. Notice whether or not your caregivers have washed their hands. Don’t be afraid to gently remind them of the importance of hand washing.

7. Tell any caregiver if you think he or she may be confusing you with another patient.

8. Expect unfamiliar caregivers to introduce themselves and show their ID badge. Each caregiver has one badge. If you are unsure of anyone’s identity, ask.

9. Make sure the caregiver checks your ID before doing any procedure or giving medication.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion.

Adapted in part from the UVA Health System’s patient safety initiative, May 2004.