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Empower Yourself

The most important thing patients can do for their well-being is take charge of their health care.

“In the past, many patients were passive health care consumers, following their physicians’ orders without question,” says Joseph Prosser, M.D., vice president and chief quality officer at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. “While that model can work well when battling short-term illness, it loses its effectiveness as people age and develop chronic conditions. Empowerment begins with a good relationship between patient and physician, one in which the patient feels comfortable asking questions.”

Follow these tips to become an empowered patient.

• Get a second opinion. An extra perspective can be illuminating and may help you make a more informed choice about treatment.

• Don’t go it alone. Take a family member or caregiver with you to appointments to act as an extra set of ears.

• Ask away. Pose as many questions as necessary to your physician until you understand an issue. Write questions down before an appointment to save time and help you remember what to ask.

• Exercise caution when using the Internet. Much health information in cyberspace isn’t credible, so stick to well-known organizations, such as the American Heart Association or Texas Health Resources, when searching for facts about a disease.

To search 4,000 health and wellness articles covering more than 1,500 medical topics, visit (Summer 2010)

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