10 Tips for Better Health Care

Good health care happens through a partnership between you and your health-care provider. Here are some tips on how you can work with your providers to get the best health care.

Take part in your health care.

  • Tell each provider about what health care you have had and who has provided it.
  • Let them know about any other treatments you have tried that were not prescribed by a doctor, such as herbal treatments, home remedies or acupuncture.
  • Tell your providers about any cultural and spiritual needs you may have.
  • To be sure you understand health-care instructions, repeat them to a family member or friend.
  • Let any provider know if you are not sure about any part of your care. If you think something might not be safe, tell your providers right away.

Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.

  • When you choose a health-care provider, pick one who is easy to talk with about your health care.
  • Ask your provider when and how you will get the results of any test or treatment. When you get the results, make sure you know what the results mean for you.
  • Have your provider explain your treatment choices, any treatment risks and how treatment may help.
  • Get a second opinion if you are not sure about what treatment to choose.
  • Learn what changes you need to make to help you get better.

Bonus Tips:

Make decisions about your health care by completing these Advance Directives:

  • A Power of Attorney form that lets you pick who you want to speak for you if you are not able to.
  • A Health Care Directive form, or Living Will, that tells your provider when or if to give you treatment to keep you alive.

For more help with Advance Directives, ask your provider or call the Swedish
Pre-Admission Center at 206-386-2997.

Bring a family member or friend with you to be your partner in care.

  • Pick someone who will speak up for you and help get things done for you.
  • Show your partner in care where to find your medical records at home. Let them know what medicines you take and where they are located.
  • Plan for your partner in care to stay with you during exams, treatments and in the hospital.
  • It’s OK for your partner in care to ask questions and take notes.

Require each provider to know who you are before they treat you.

  • Ask providers to checktwo forms of identification each time they care for you.
  • If you are given a wristband, be sure it has your name on it and that your name is spelled right.
  • Also, look for the name badge on all providers who are caring for you.

Share a list of all medicines you take with your providers.

  • Include all medicines, vitamins, herbs and supplements on the list.
  • Bring the list with you to every visit.  Here is a printable Personal Medication Record.
  • Let your provider know about your allergies.
  • Let your provider know if you have had a bad reaction to any medicines.

Know about your medicines.

  • Ask your provider what a new medicine is for and how it will help you.
  • Have the brand names and any other names for the medicine written down for you.
  • Find out how to take the medicine and for how long.
  • Ask the pharmacist for written information about what to watch for when you take the medicine.

Prevent infection.

  • Use alcohol hand gel or wash your hands. Hand cleaning is the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick.
  • Ask anyone who takes care of you, “Did you use alcohol hand gel or wash your hands?”
  • Tell family and friends not to visit or be with you if they have a cold, flu or cough.

Prepare for treatments and operations.

  • Before your treatment or operation, know what medicines to take or not take, what you can or cannot eat or drink, and what you should or should not wear.
  • Make sure that you and your providers all agree on what will be done during the treatment or operation.
  • Help your provider find and mark the part of your body that will be operated on.
  • Make sure only the part of your body having the operation is marked. It can be confusing if other sites are marked.

Ask your provider to explain what you need to do to care for yourself at home.

  • Find out when you can start your usual activities again.
  • Get the telephone number of who to call with questions.
  • Find out when and where you will have your next appointment.
  • Have a family member or friend listen to the instructions.

Learn about your health care and treatment.

  • Get as much information as you can about your health care and treatment.
  • Come to any of the health education centers at Swedish. We are open to everyone, and we are happy to help you find the information you need. There is no charge.

    The education centers offer health information including:
    • Pamphlets and brochures
    • Books, audiotapes and videotapes
    • Information on area groups and support
    • Magazines and newsletters
    • Specific computer searches on any health subject



Community Health Education Department
Hours: Monday-Friday,
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
T 206-386-2502
F 206-215-2110

The Cancer Education Center
Swedish Cancer Institute
T 206-386-3200
F 206-215-6199

Health Resource Center
T 206-781-6302

Health Resource Information – Main Lobby
Cherry Hill
T 206-386-2502

Resource Library - First Floor
T 425-640-4000