Giving and receiving safe care is a goal that is shared by healthcare providers, patients and families.
For many people, it can be hard to keep track of all the health information you hear during medical visits including diagnoses, tests, medications, and other instructions.
But it’s important to make sure you have the information you need and understand what to do for yourself after you leave the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital.
Asking healthcare providers questions is a way to make sure you understand your care, helps doctors, nurses and other members of the healthcare team know if they explained things clearly, and if they need to give you more information so you can care for yourself safely
Prepare your questions
Plan your questions before your see your healthcare provider, whenever possible.
Write down your questions and bring them to your appointment.
If you are in the hospital, keep a notepad by the bed to write down questions as you think of them. That way you will be ready when your healthcare provider comes in and will also have a place to write down the answers.
Not sure what to ask?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a webpage called “Questions are the Answer.”
The website lists questions you can use before, during, or after medical appointments, tips for talking with your provider, and videos you can watch. There is also a feature you can use to create your own list of questions.
The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has information for patients about asking questions, too.
As part of Patient Safety Awareness Week™, NPSF is encouraging health care organizations to share a video called Ask Me 3®.
This 4 minute video shows how patients and family members can talk with their health care team to make sure they understand their main health problem, how to care for this problem, and why.