Questions Are the Answer: When It Comes To Your Health, Ask Questions!

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Did you know that there are no wrong questions to ask when it comes to talking with your doctor about your health? You hold the key to the quality of health care you receive. One of the most important things that you can do to improve your health care is to take an active role in it and to be prepared for every medical appointment.

FrancisFar too many African Americans still approach doctors’ appointments the way our grandparents did: We just don’t ask enough questions. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of the answers or afraid we won’t understand the answers. But asking your doctor or nurse questions and then making sure you understand what it is they are saying shows that you are personally involved with your health care. Asking questions about your care, your diagnosis, your treatment, and any medications prescribed to you are important steps to improving the quality, safety, and effectiveness of your health care. The reality is, if you don’t ask, your clinician can’t help you. With at least 120 deaths occurring in hospitals every day due to medical mistakes, it’s clear that you need to get more involved.

To empower patients and caregivers to get more involved, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Ad Council have launched a national television, radio, print, and Web public service advertising campaign, Questions Are the Answer: Get More Involved With Your Health Care. Stay tuned.

The Questions Are the Answer campaign features a Web site with a Question Builder that allows you to create a personalized list of questions to take with you to medical appointments. Questions such as:

  • What is this test for?
  • When will I get the results?
  • What are my choices besides surgery?
  • Will I need medicine?
  • How do you spell the name of that drug?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • Will this medicine interact with medicines I’m already taking?

The Questions Are the Answer campaign aims to help millions of Americans ask questions related to their health care. For more information go to www.AHRQ.gov/questionsaretheanswer. Free print materials–in English and Spanish–also are available by calling 1–800–931–AHRQ (2477).

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