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  1. McEnroe-Petitte, Denise M. MSN, RN

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To get the best care possible, you need to take an active role in your healthcare. The relationship between you and your healthcare provider should be based on trust, honesty, and concern. It's important to share personal information with your healthcare provider, even if it's embarrassing or makes you uncomfortable.


If you see a healthcare provider who doesn't want to listen to your questions or concerns, find one who will. You can find a new healthcare provider through recommendations from family and friends or your insurance company.


How should I prepare for an appointment?

When you make an appointment, review your current health situation. Think about questions or concerns that you want to talk about. Keep a pad of paper in a common area such as the kitchen table and jot down ideas or questions as they come to you. Write down any new symptoms, responses to medicines, or concerns about your health. Make a list of all the medicines you're currently taking. Include over-the-counter medicines and herbal and nutritional supplements. Write down the doses (amount you take) and how often you take them. Note which prescription medicines need to be refilled. Take these notes and lists with you to your appointment.


How can I get the most out of my appointment?

To help you and your healthcare provider become partners in improving your health, you should:


* speak up and discuss any concerns and thoughts you have about your health right away. Don't wait to be asked.


* bring a pen and paper and take notes. Some healthcare providers will let you bring a tape recorder. Be sure to ask first.


* ask questions if you don't understand what the healthcare provider is telling you. Ask every time you don't understand something.


* bring a spouse, caregiver, or trusted friend. He or she can help you ask questions and remember the answers.


* ask the healthcare provider to provide any handouts, pamphlets, tapes, or videos that can help you better understand the health concerns you're discussing. Ask if any websites provide more information. You can review them when you get home.


* tell your healthcare provider when you need more time to talk about something. You may be able to talk to a nurse if the healthcare provider isn't available. Or ask for another appointment to continue talking.



How do I follow up?

Once you get home, if you have more questions, call the healthcare provider's office. Ask to leave a message with the healthcare provider or talk to a nurse. Some healthcare providers have e-mail addresses where patients can ask questions.


If you had tests, blood work, or X-rays, ask when you can expect to receive the results. If you don't get a response within 1 week of the appointment, call the office. Let them know you're waiting for their response. If your healthcare provider suggested that you see a specialist, make an appointment. Call your healthcare provider if you start to feel worse or have problems with any medicines you're taking.