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Health Education

We want you to have and keep good health, and that's what health education is all about. This information to help you make quality health decisions, get the care you need and stop medical errors. It is important to take part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results.

The following tips can help you get safer care.


There are things you need to do to get better quality care and to avoid taking medicines that may harm you.

  • Make sure that all of your doctors know about all types of medicines you are taking, such as:
    • Other prescriptions or medicines
    • Over-the-counter medicines
    • Dietary supplements like vitamins, herbs or herbal teas
  • Take or write down all of your medicines and supplements with you whenever you go to see your doctor. It may be easier to put all of them in a bag so you don’t forget any.
  • Write a note if you have any allergies and bad reactions to any medicines.
  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines to find out what needs to be done.
  • Make sure you can read what your doctor writes about your medicine. If you cannot read it, the pharmacist might not be able to either.
  • Ask about your medicines until you understand. Ask your doctor when you pick them up at the pharmacy:
    • What is the medicine for?
    • How do I take it and for how long?
    • What are signs or problems that I might have from taking this medicine? What do I do if they happen?
    • Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
    • Are there any food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
  • At the pharmacy, ask "Is this the medicine that my doctor gave me?" when you pick up your medicine.
  • Ask if you have any questions about the instructions that are written on your medicine labels. Instructions can be hard to understand. For example, ask if "four times daily" means taking a dose every 6 hours or just during regular waking hours. If you have liquid medicine, ask your pharmacist for the best tool to measure your liquid medicine. For example, you might want to ask for marked syringes to help you get the right dose instead of using a spoon from home.
  • Ask for handout about the side effects your medicine could cause. If you know what symptoms to look for, you will be better prepared if they happen.

Hospital Stays or Clinic Visits

If you are in a hospital or clinic, ask questions so you can get well soon.

  • Ask health care workers who will touch you if they have washed their hands. This can stop the spread of germs.
  • Ask your doctor to talk to you about the care plan you will follow when you go home. This plan could include:
    • Learning about your new medicines
    • Making sure you know when to schedule follow-up appointments
    • Finding out when you can get back to your normal activities


If you are having surgery, you need to do a couple things to help get a quality result.

  • Make sure you and all your doctors agree on exactly what will be done and where it will be done. For example, operating on the left knee instead of the right is rare but it can be stopped from ever happening. Normally, surgeons will mark on the surgery site before they operate.
  • If you can, choose a hospital where many patients have had the procedure or surgery you need. Research shows that patients may have better results when they are treated in a hospital that has treated their condition in others.

Other Steps

  • Ask questions and talk about your concerns. You have a right to question anyone who is taking care of you.
  • Make sure you have someone directing your overall care. Normally this is your primary care doctor but it can be a case manager. This is very important if you have many health or medical issues or if you are in the hospital.
  • Make sure all your doctors have been told about your important health information. Do not assume that they all have the information they need.
  • Ask a family member or friend to go with you to your appointments. You may need help later so it’s important that someone else knows what’s happening to you.
  • Find out why a test or treatment is being done and how it can help you. You may not need it at all.
  • Ask how and when you will get your test results. Do not assume that no news is good news.
  • Learn about your surgery, condition and treatment by:
    • Asking your doctor and nurse about it
    • Asking if your treatment is based on the latest evidence
    • Using other trusted sources and visit the Effective Health Care website ( for treatment options that are based on the latest scientific evidence

By using these tips, you can be more watchful and better able to notice any possible medical errors. It is important to do, for yourself and your good health.

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