According to the he Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, medical mistakes claim tens of thousands of lives in the US every year. After all, health professionals are only humans who can err. Medical mistakes however, can be prevented. And prevention not only depends on the health care professionals but on the patients as well. AHRQ is urging patients to take a proactive role in their health care and help prevent medical mistakes. And this can be done by asking questions. The right questions. Here are some of the questions that AHRQ (“Questions are the Answer”) recommend you should ask:
- · What is the test for?
- · How many times have you done this?
- · When will I get the results?
- · Why do I need this surgery?
- · Are there any alternatives to surgery?
- · What are the possible complications?
- · Which hospital is best for my needs?
- · How do you spell the name of that drug?
- · Are there any side effects?
- · Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?
In addition to asking your questions, I give you a few tips on how to ask your questions.
- Be respectful and polite when you ask your 10 questions. Take note that doctors and other health professionals are only humans who are also sensitive to criticism and unreasonable demands. It is not an interrogation. It is a conversation, a patient-doctor dialogue.
- Ask questions without losing confidence in your doctor. Asking questions doesn’t mean you are questioning his capability and expertise. It is more about getting clarifications and understanding better. Remember, your doctor has your best interest at heart, otherwise you don’t go see him at all.
- Inform yourself. Aside from asking questions, you can also inform yourself beforehand by reading up at the library, and over the Internet. Remember that your doctor is a busy professional who attends to a lot of patients. The better informed you are, the faster and easier the discussion would be.