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VA National Center for Patient Safety

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Get Involved!

A health care provider discusses care with patient in an exam room 

Check out these tips compiled by the VA: 

  • When you get a prescription, make sure you know what it is for and what the side effects might be.
  • Make sure your doctor knows what allergies or problems you have had with medicines.
  • If you have a test, ask about the results. If they don’t seem right, speak to your doctor.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about all the medications you take. This includes prescriptions, medications you bought at a store, and things like vitamins and herbs.
  • Write down questions for your doctor before your visit and think about bringing a friend or family member with you. It’s your health. If you have questions, ask them

Don't be afraid to ask questions if you have doubts or concerns: Speak up! This will allow your VA healthcare providers an opportunity to better assist you. We want you to understand your treatment plan and why we have chosen it for you.

Questions are the Answer*, developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), has suggested general questions, treatment specific questions, and a Build Your Question List tool.

Understand your role in your care: VHA's Patient Advocate site has published Patient Rights and Responsibilities so that you will better understand what to expect from care provided by VA. This document covers topics from your participation in healthcare decisions to keeping personal clothes and effects.

Involve your loved ones: Keep your loved ones informed about your care plan. Better yet, ask a family member to assist you in understanding and carrying out your care plan.

Make sure you and your caregivers are clear about what medications you take: Be sure to tell your caregivers what medications you are taking, including non-prescription medications, vitamins and herbal remedies. When you receive a prescription, make sure it is the right medication and the right dose. Here's an easy-to-use medication record sheet to help with keeping track of all of these - just fill it in. Be sure to keep your list up to date!

*By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.