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Don't Be Passive! Here Are Some Tips To Get the Health Information You Need

Patients often don't question their doctors' decisions or ask for explanations; this passivity could be detrimental to your health, says the Prudential Center for Health Care Research.

Patients should learn how to become active participants in their own healthcare, which means recognizing the symptoms of an illness or disease, as well as taking part in decisions involving diagnosis and treatment," said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, president of the center, which conducts research to evaluate and improve how healthcare is delivered to managed care consumers.

In comparison, patients should take the same critical and inquisitive approach to their healthcare as they would with other important life decisions such as making a career move, buying a home or finding a school for [their] child," continued Koplan.

Prudential offers a series of tips that could help you choose a doctor or to improve your relationship with your present doctor.

Visit a new doctor to get acquainted. Discuss your medical history and bring a list of prepared questions. Schedule a physical exam. Make sure you are comfortable with him or her.

Consider your doctor's office hours and office location. Are they convenient for you? Are evening or weekend hours offered?

Ask questions and don't be timid. Arrive at your doctor's office with a list of questions and ask them all. Make sure you understand the answers. If you require surgery, ask how many times your doctor has performed the procedure.

Record the outcomes of your visits to the doctor in a journal. Keep track of dates, shots, diagnoses, treatments and illnesses. Keep track of any concerns or symptoms you have between visits.

Take notes during your appointment. If you are receiving disturbing information, you may forget some of the details told to you by your doctor.

Bring a relative, friend or spouse. A second set of ears can be very beneficial.

Don't make any serious decisions about treatment immediately. Consider what you want to do, take some time and then get back to your doctor.

Discuss your medical records with your doctor if need be.

Report any health problems. When your doctor asks you how you are feeling, give him or her an honest answer.

Address: The Prudential Insurance Company of America, 751 Broad Street, Prudential Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102; (201) 802-6000.

Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing

© 2000 Health Resources Publishing