The Day of the Passive Patient Is Over

How to take charge of your health

patient asking doctor questions

By: Toby Cosgrove, MD

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Healthcare is a team sport. And you – the patient – are the No. 1 draft pick. It’s your body, your health, your life. Why shouldn’t you have a voice – and a strong one – in your own care?

The day of the passive patient is over. It’s time to take charge of your health. We fully expect and encourage you to research your symptoms on the internet – be sure to choose reputable websites, though – and learn as much as you can about the doctor and hospital that provide your care.

Cosgrove Book bannerWe want you to speak up, ask questions, and tell us if you don’t understand something. If you’re facing a major medical procedure, you should consider getting a second opinion; your doctor won’t be offended, because the team is working together for you and with you. We have one goal: To get you better.

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How healthcare has changed

Today, any respectable hospital is working hard to get you more involved in your own care. Cleveland Clinic patients have access to most of their medical record, including test results, prescriptions, doctors’ notes, x-rays and other images online or on their smartphones.

If you’re in a strange city and need emergency care, you can pull out your phone, put in the password, and whoever is caring for you can see a full list of your medications and other key data points about your health. Hospitalized patients can see as much of their medical records as they choose, as valued members of their own healthcare team.

Your role as a patient

As part of your caregiving team, you need to:

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  • Give your caregivers a frank and accurate account of your own health history and condition
  • Comply with your treatment plan, including taking all medications in the proper doses and as scheduled
  • If you are unable or unwilling to follow a recommended treatment, tell your doctor right away so you can work together to find an alternative treatment
  • Do your best to avoid getting sick or injured: Observe safety rules, get more exercise, eat a healthy diet, be mindful of hygiene and get checkups and screenings on the schedule that’s appropriate for your health and age

The rest of your healthcare team is ready to help whenever we’re needed.

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