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How can patients take an active role in their care?

You may feel nervous or awkward about taking an active role in your medical care. You may be afraid that your doctor will take offense if you ask questions about your diagnosis or treatment options, or that he or she will think you do not have confidence in his or her abilities.

On the contrary, according to the Cleveland Clinic, your doctor welcomes your involvement in your care and hopes that you will be an active participant. While your doctor has extensive medical training, he or she does not have the ability to read your mind and find out what confuses or concerns you about your care. Additionally, your doctor does not have your firsthand knowledge of your background and current situation.

Working together with your doctor, you can help to optimize your care and avoid becoming the victim of medical malpractice. Here are some ways that you can take an active role in your own health care.

1. Provide your doctor with a list of your allergies and any medications you take

Your doctor is most interested in any allergies you have to medications. However, it is also helpful to know about allergies to other materials, such as latex. You should inform your doctor of all medications you take, whether over-the-counter or with a prescription. This includes vitamins and herbal supplements.

2. Identify yourself

Sometimes patient records get mixed up, and your doctor might try to base your treatment based on another patient’s chart or lab results. Make sure your doctor knows who you are.

3. Ask about the plan before consenting to treatment

Before you allow your doctor to perform treatment on you, ask him or her to explain exactly what is going to happen during the procedure. The explanation should use language that you can easily understand. If something is confusing, ask for clarification

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