Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Banner from Agency for Healthcare and Quality website.

SeniorsAloud regularly receives mail from overseas, especially from the US, UK, Canada and Australia. The latest email that came in this morning had a request to share a link with our community of seniors. I have checked out the website and found the contents educational and of particular relevance to us. Here's the link: http://www.ahrq.gov/. Agency for Healthcare and Quality(AHRQ) is an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The site is full of useful health information, and I recommend that you visit it. For this blog post, I have selected to highlight the article "Questions are the Answer". It addresses an issue that so many of us seniors here in Malaysia and Singapore are familiar with - a reluctance to ask our doctors for more information.

Do watch this 7-minute video above that features patients and clinicians discussing the importance of asking questions and sharing information. You can also access the video at http://www.ahrq.gov/questions/video/waitroom/

Perhaps it's to do with our Asian culture of keeping quiet especially when in the presence of someone of authority like doctors. We put doctors on a high pedestal. We kow-tow to them. So who are we to question them? They are busy people with little time to listen to us. Besides, we don't want to show our ignorance with our questions. Never mind that we don't quite understand their explanations or instructions, or that we have some fears and doubts to raise about our medical condition.

And so we let pass the opportunity to ask questions while in the doctor's room, only to go home and berate ourselves for not asking what all these prescription drugs are for, if it's okay to take them together with traditional medicines, or what the side effects are, if any. We call up the clinic. We would be lucky if our call gets through. And if it does, chances are the nurse will inform us the doctor is with a patient and can't take our call.

So the next time you see your doctor, bring up any questions that are troubling you. Better communication between you and your doctor leads to better care for you.

Here are the 10 questions you might want to ask your doctor, as suggested by AHRQ. The list is by no means exhaustive.

1. What is the test for?
2. How many times have you done this procedure?
3. When will I get the results?
4. Why do I need this treatment?
5. Are there any alternatives?
6. What are the possible complications?
7. Which hospital is best for my needs?
8. How do you spell the name of that drug?
9. Are there any side effects?
10. Will this medicine interact with medicines that I'm already taking?

The site also features other tips and tools. Healthcare workers will find plenty of free downloads and printouts to share with their patients and clients.

20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors 

What Preventive Tests Do Men Need?

Be More Involved in Your Healthcare

Thank you, Sarah Mars, for pointing SeniorsAloud to this great website.

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