Educated Health Care Consumer - -

How to Be an Educated Healthcare Consumer

Knowing what questions to ask before you have a procedure done or know how to avoid infections are two of the many ways you can educate yourself to take a more active role in your health and care. Following are recommendations on questions to ask before surgery, how to become an active member of your care team to help avoid medication errors, recommendations on speaking up for your health, as well as advice on how to help manage pain, the proper way to take medication, and preventative steps to help avoid infections.


Courtesy of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the following are some questions to ask your surgeon recommending a procedure:  

  • What operation are you recommending?
  • Why do I need the operation?
  • Are there alternatives to surgery?
  • What are the benefits of having the operation?
  • What are the risks of having the operation?
  • What if I don’t have this operation?
  • Where can I get a second opinion?
  • What has been your experience in doing this operation?
  • What kind of anesthesia will I need?
  • How long will it take me to recover?

Speak Up!

Everyone has a role in making healthcare safe—including the patient. The Speak Up program, sponsored by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, urges patients to get involved in their care with the following tips: 

Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don’t understand something, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.

Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure that you’re getting the right treatments and medications by the right healthcare professionals. Don’t assume anything.

Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you’re undergoing, and your treatment plans.

Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.

Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common healthcare mistake.

Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of healthcare organization that has undergone a rigorous onsite evaluation against established, state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as those provided by JCAHO.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the healthcare team.

Medications, Prescriptions

Medication errors account for nearly ??% of medical errors in the United States each year. You can take an active role in helping to prevent medication errors by following these simple recommendations. Learn more about medication safety here

  • Avoiding Medical Errors
  • Medication Safety Pledge
  • Talking about Prescriptions
  • Health and Medication Guidelines

Pain Management Guidelines

Pain is an uncomfortable feeling; it’s your body’s way of sending a warning sign of danger, injury, or illness. People often feel that severe pain is something they “just have to put up with.” With current treatments, that’s no longer true. You may not be able to completely eliminate your pain, but you can work with your doctors and nurses to prevent or relieve most pain.  

As a patient in our hospitals, you can expect:

  • Information about pain and pain relief measures
  • Concerned staff committed to pain prevention and management
  • Health professionals who respond quickly to reports of pain
  • Health professionals who believe your reports of pain
  • State-of-the-art pain management

As a patient in our hospitals, we expect that you will: 

  • Ask your doctor or nurse what to expect regarding pain and pain management
  • Discuss pain relief options with your doctor and nurse
  • Work with your doctor and nurse to develop a pain management plan
  • Ask for pain relief when pain first begins
  • Help your doctor and nurses assess your pain
  • Tell your doctor or nurse if your pain is not relieved
  • Tell your doctor or nurse about any worries you have about taking pain medications 

Options for Pain Control 

Both drug and non-drug treatments can be successful in helping to prevent and control pain. Medications come in pills, shots, suppositories, or through tubes in your vein or back. Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and music are a few examples of non-drug treatments. You and your doctors and nurses will decide which ones are right for you. Many people combine two or more methods to get greater relief. 

Assessing Pain 

Crozer staff uses pain assessment scales that help us determine how effectively we’re managing your pain relief. The doctors and nurses will ask you to choose a number from 0 to 10 that best describes your pain. For example, 0 = no pain, 5 = distressing pain, and 10 = unbearable pain. 

Or, you may be asked to choose a face from a scale that best describes how you feel. For example, a smiling face = no pain; a crying face = unbearable pain. Your doctors and nurses will ask you how the pain medicine is working and may change the medicine, its dose, or its timing if you’re still having pain. Let us know how effectively we’re managing your pain. Your doctors and nurses need your help to design the best plan for you. 

Preventing Infection

Diabetes, being overweight and smoking can increase the risk of infection, but there are also many ways to reduce risk. Here are some tips for avoiding infection during your stay at the hospital:  

  • Wash your hands carefully after handling any type of soiled material. Doing this is especially important after you have gone to the bathroom, or before you eat.
  • Do not be afraid to remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands.
  • If you have an intravenous catheter or any wound, keep the skin around the dressing clean and dry. Tell your nurse if the dressing works loose or gets wet. Also, let your nurse know if your catheter or drainage tube becomes loose or dislodged.
  • Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions regarding breathing treatments and getting out of bed. Do not be afraid to ask for help, advice, or pain medicine. 



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