Being a Proactive Patient

Ask questions until all is clear to you

As a patient, you have the right to be part of your health care team. Here are some starters:

Ask questions.

You have the right to understand your diagnosis, proposed plan of care, and what will be needed for recovery. Ask what test results mean. Tell your health care team if you have any known allergies to food, medications, or preparations used in cleaning or patient hygiene. Write down questions for your doctor. While your health care team has many responsibilities, you have the right to our attention and the very best care we can provide.


Bring a list of the medications, dosages, and times per day you currently take. Do not bring medications from home. This includes over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbals. Your physician will discuss with you the proposed medications they feel will be helpful in your care. If the medication that's presented looks different than you expect, ask the nurse to check the medication and dosage, based on your doctor's orders. Upon discharge, ask your doctor which medications you should continue to take.


If you need surgery, have the surgeon explain the procedure to you, how long the surgery will take, and what to expect during the recovery and rehabilitation process. Be sure to inform your physician or surgeon if you have an Advance Directive and an appointed Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Tell your surgeon or anesthesiologist if you have ever had a bad reaction to a particular type of anesthesia.

Preventing Falls.

Your health care team will assess your risk factor for falls upon admission. They will assess such things as: the medications that will be ordered; walking difficulties; impaired vision or hearing; two or more falls in the past six months; chronic conditions that can impact focus and thinking; and whether you, the patient, have a fear of falling.

Use your call light if you need assistance using the bathroom. Wear non-skid slippers while in the hospital. If you do not have this type of slippers, ask your nurse to provide fall-resistant footwear. If side rails are up on your bed, they are for your safety. Move slowly and carefully before standing, and walk slowly. Do not lean on rolling objects, such as IV poles, bedside tables or other moveable furniture. If you are in doubt about your mobility, call for assistance.