Ten Tips for Better Health
Australia has one of the best health care systems in the world. This means when you visit a health care service you can expect the highest standards of health care available.
With your help, systems in health care can continue to be improved so that problems are less likely to occur.
No single person or group can improve health care systems on their own. Improving safety in health care is not only the business of doctors, nurses or other health care professionals. Everyone has a part to play - especially you, the patient receiving care.
Be actively involved in your own health care
Taking part in decisions about your treatment is the single most important way to help prevent things from going wrong and to ensure the best possible care for yourself.
Speak up if you have any questions or concerns
You have the right to ask questions and to expect answers you understand, however, your health care professional can only answer your questions if you ask them. You have the right to ask for another professional opinion. A family member, carer or interpreter can be present if this will help you.
You may wish to say:
- I’m not sure I understand what you said
- I’m worried that...
- Could you please explain that to me again?
- Can I come back with my family to talk about this again?
Learn more about your condition or treatments by asking your doctor, nurse or other health care professional and by using other reliable sources of information
You may wish to ask:
- Can you please tell me more about my condition?
- What can I do to help myself? When should I come back to see you?
Make sure you understand the medicines that you are taking
Make sure the medicine you have been given is exactly what your doctor ordered for you. If you are starting on a new medication, or told to stop taking your medication be sure you understand what side effects may occur and if or when to restart.
You may wish to ask:
- What do the directions on the label mean?
- Do you have any written information about this medicine?
- How much should I take, and when is the best time to take it?
- What are the common side effects? What should I look out for?
- How long before it starts to work?
- Will this medicine interact with the other medicines that I am taking?
- Are there any foods or other things that I should avoid while I’m on this medicine?
- How long do I need to take this medicine?
- Do I restart taking the medication and when?
Make sure you get the results of any test or investigation
If you don’t get your results when expected, don’t assume that everything is automatically alright. Call your doctor to find out your results, and ask what they mean for your care.
Make sure you, your doctor and your surgeon all agree on what course of action will be taken during your operation
Although carrying out the wrong operation or on the wrong side is extremely rare, even once is too often. Examples include operating on the left knee rather than the right knee, or removal of the appendix instead of the gall bladder. Ensure you confirm the operation details with the surgical team, just prior to the operation.
Before you leave hospital; ask your doctor or another health care professional to explain your future treatment plan
When people are discharged from hospital, doctors can sometimes think their patients understand more than they really do about their continuing treatment and follow-up.
You may wish to ask:
- Who will be following up on my care and when do I need to see them?
- How long will I be taking this medicine?
- Will I require physiotherapy or other rehabilitation services?
- When can I return to work?
- When can I play sport?
- When can I drive?
- Will I be given a written summary of my care to give to my doctor?
Remember to visit your doctor after you are discharged.
In hospital you can expect your health care professional to:
- Actively involve you in your own health care
- Set aside time to allow you to talk about your concerns
- Provide information for you in a language and format that is easy to understand
- Complete a medication history that takes into account over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, alcohol and recreational drugs that you use
- Provide verbal and written information about medicines in plain language
- Make sure that you get the results of your tests and investigations
- Provide you with complete information about your treatment if you are to have surgery or a procedure.
- Make sure you know exactly what is going to happen to you in surgery and that you have consented in full
- Discuss discharge planning. Start planning as early as practical, if possible, before the time of hospital admission
WHERE CAN YOU GO FOR MORE INFORMATION?
A good place to start finding information about your condition is the Health Insite website www.healthinsite.gov.au. Your local library may help you with access to the internet.
You may also like to contact a support group for people with similar conditions.
The FREE 10 Tips Booklet is available at the Australian Council for Safety & Quality in Health Care website www.safetyandquality.gov.au.