Every day, millions of Americans receive health care across the United States, including the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These individuals get the right care at the right time, and in the correct way. Every person involved has a role in making this happen, including physicians, nurses, physician office staff and hospital staff. There is another person who has a very important role in making good health care happen - you as the patient. Those of us in the health care profession would like to encourage each one of you to play an active role in your health care. Here are some ways that you can help in making sure your health care is right for you:
Share Information - You may begin this process by recording your health history on paper and bringing it with you whenever you seek health care. This history should include any medications you may be taking and your past health history including any surgeries or illnesses you may have experienced.
Be involved - please read any information provided to you by your physician and/or pharmacist regarding your health care and/or medications. If you need help with this, please ask someone for assistance. If you are having surgery, make sure you understand what is involved in the procedure. Have your doctor or the nurse explain the procedure, your treatment plan and any medications you will be receiving. Take notes that you can refer to later, or bring someone with you who can receive the information along with you to make sure that you understand the procedure, treatment and medications.
Know your medications - one of the most important safeguards when seeking health care is to have a current list of medications available for review by your health care provider. Keep a current list of all medications you are taking and bring it with you whenever seeking health care. Ask your doctor or the pharmacist filling your prescription about side effects of the medication and whether it is OK to take the new medication in addition to your current medications. Your list should also include any vitamins, over the counter drugs and herbal supplements. Seek medical advice before stopping any medications. Take your medications in the doses prescribed by your physician.
Prevent infections - there are three ways to prevent the spread of infections - washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, and receiving immunizations as needed. Use soap and water to wash your hands and please do this frequently. Cover your nose and mouth by coughing or sneezing into the crook of your elbow to help prevent the spread of disease. Receive immunizations as needed, such as the flu vaccine when available during the fall months of each year.
Every hospital in the United States, including those in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, are working together to help improve health care. You can assist us in reaching this goal by following the guidelines listed above. We hope everyone will take charge of their own health!
Editor's note: Sally Koskinen, RN, is corporate compliance and privacy officer for Baraga County Memorial Hospital.