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Doctors    Drugs    Eyeglasses    Hospitals    Mammograms    Medications    Surgery   
DOCTORS
Also see: HOSPITALS, ILLNESSES, INJURIES, MEDICATIONS, SURGERY; specific ailments, injuries, parts of the body

FINDING A DOCTOR:
_____ Decide what you're looking for in a doctor, e.g., emphasis on non-medication treatment/therapy when feasible
_____ Check with the American Medical Association for recommendations
_____ Check "The Best Doctors in America" books
_____ Seek referrals from other doctors

For any doctors you're considering using:
_____ Check the doctor's credentials with the state medical board
_____ Ensure the doctor:
          - Is qualified in the area(s) you need care, e.g., call the American Board of Medical Specialties (800 776-2378) to ensure the doctor is certified to practice in the specialty you need treatment in - disciplinary data not available
          - Is licensed in your state
          - Completed his/her residency at a reputable institution
          - Is Board certified - approx. 75% of doctors are board certified
          - Has no significant disciplinary action taken against him/her, e.g., call 888 ASK-MEDI for any disciplinary information on the doctor - $15 fee

_____ Ensure:
          - You'll have adequate access to the doctor and the staff, in person and on phone
          - The doctor's office runs smoothly
          - The doctor encourages two-way communication through his/her demeanor
          - You and the doctor have mutual respect which leads to trust

If you're looking for a doctor for your child:
_____ Try to find a doctor who is good with children

VISITING A DOCTOR:
Before:

_____ Write down items to discuss with the doctor, e.g.:
          - Ailments and symptoms you've experienced recently
          - Questions to ask of, and concerns to mention to, your doctor
          - Your treatment to date e.g., medications
_____ Be prepared to give a urine sample (e.g., don't urinate before going to the doctor's office, do drink lots of fluids)

If you're taking a child to see the doctor:
_____ Announce the visit no more than 2-3 days before the visit so the child won't worry excessively about the visit
_____ Prepare them beforehand for everything you expect to happen, including the possibility of getting a shot (don't let there be surprises) - it'll damage their trust in you, doctors and nurses

Take:
_____ Health insurance card and/or insurance information
_____ List of all medications you're taking and/or the actual medications
_____ Medical/health records
_____ Check, credit card or cash to pay bill

During visit:
_____ Ask lots of questions, e.g.:
          - What tests were run
          - Were results of tests in the high or low range
          - Treatment options
          - Clarification of doctor's comments, advice and recommended treatment
_____ Be aware that the following are commonly-overlooked diseases:
          - Pulmonary emboli
          - Heart disease (heart attack)
          - Tumors
          - Infections
          - Tick-borne diseases
_____ Let your child sit on your lap when feasible, especially for shots, etc.
If the doctor recommends/prescribes a course of action you're unsure of:
_____ Get a second (and perhaps third) opinion from another doctor

After:
_____ Ask the doctor if you're contagious
_____ Reward child for being brave

Regularly:
_____ Schedule a health check-up at least yearly

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EYEGLASSES

IF YOU THINK YOU NEED EYEGLASSES:
_____ See an ophthalmologist to determine whether you need eyeglasses and to get a prescription
_____ Ask an optician which frames are compatible with your prescription
_____ Get lenses which provide UV protection (from ultraviolet rays)
_____ Don't feel pressured to get scratch-proof or tinted lenses unless you really want them

AFTER GETTING EYEGLASSES:
If the glasses don't seem to be working for you:

_____ Take the glasses back to the store you got them from
If you're still not satisfied:
_____ Take the glasses and the prescription to a different store and ask them to check the glasses - most stores will check them for free
If you're still not satisfied:
_____ Take the glasses back to your doctor

REGULARLY:
_____ Have the eyeglasses checked and adjusted

For more info on buying glasses and a free face shape guide: framesdirect.com

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HOSPITALS
Also see: DOCTORS, ILLNESSES, INJURIES, MEDICATIONS, SURGERY; specific ailments, injuries, parts of the body

- some believe that health care kills more people than everything except cancer and heart disease
- 80,000 to 150,000 people died in 1996 in the U.S. from infections they caught in a hospital

ASAP:
_____ Check out hospital emergency rooms before an emergency happens to your family:
          - How accessible?
          - Long lines?

ASAP and if you need to use a hospital:
_____ Check out hospitals:
          - Determine if the state has a report (e.g. "hospital effectiveness report") which compares facilities by procedures for things such as death rate, complication rate, cost
          - Ask for the following information from the hospital (- if the hospital provides all of the information, it's probably a good place to use):
              - What's their infection rate?
              - What's their morbidity rate?
_____ Call the joint commission on hospital accreditation and ask if the hospital you're considering has any infection control problems
_____ Ask hospital personnel if they use special ointments on sterile sites to help control spread of infections
_____ Be aware that major teaching hospitals might result in a better recovery and a shorter stay

When being treated at a hospital or doctor's office:
_____ Don't use cell phone near the hospital - can affect equipment
_____ Ask lots of questions (the patient who asks the most questions usually gets the best care)
_____ Communicate extensively with your doctor
_____ Never have surgery performed on you by anyone you haven't talked to at great length
_____ Ask for another doctor if you're not comfortable with your current doctor, even if you're already in the hospital
_____ Have someone with you
_____ Use available personnel in hospital e.g. patient advocates, patient representatives
_____ Know what medications you, or your family member, are supposed to get and what dose - so you can tell nurse if nurse tries to give you wrong medication or too much of a medication
Before a hospital worker touches you, your medicine or your IV:
_____ Ensure they wash their hands where you can see them

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MAMMOGRAMS
Also see: DISEASES

Before getting a mammogram:
___ Ensure the facility is accredited by the American College of Radiology and/or that the facility specializes in mammograms
If you have breast implants:
___ Ensure the operator has adequate experience conducting mammograms on breasts with implants

After getting a mammogram:
___ Ask your doctor, technician, etc. to double check your results
___ Ask to see your mammogram(s) and associated records
___ Get a complete physical including breast exam

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MEDICATIONS

- Approx. 4 of every 1000 prescriptions are wrong (e.g., wrong dose, allergic reactions, wrong therapy)

____ Never self-medicate
____ Don't take more than one medication at a time before discussing with your doctor
____ Throw out leftover anti-biotics (misuse of antibiotics leads to their ineffectiveness)

Before doctor prescribes medication, especially an antibiotic or heart medication:
____ Ensure doctor knows what medications you're currently taking
____ Ensure doctor knows your drug allergy history
____ Ask about any changes in the medication's name or dosage
If you have reduced kidney or liver function:
____ Ensure your medication is reduced or changed as appropriate

If your doctor prescribes medication:
_____ Ask the doctor and/or pharmacist for following (in writing, if feasible):
          - Name of the medication
          - What the medication is supposed to do
          - Dosage
          - How and when the medication should be taken
          - How long you should take the medication
          - Medicines (e.g., over-the-counter), food, drinks, etc. which shouldn't be taken in combination with the medication
          - Activities which should be avoided while taking the medication
          - Possible side effects
          - What to do if you miss a dose
____ Try to use one pharmacy for all of your prescriptions - so they will be more likely to catch potentially dangerous drug interactions and/or inappropriate prescriptions

CHILDREN:
If you administer over-the-counter medication:

____ Don't give aspirin to children - can cause Reye's disease
____ Don't give ibuprofen to children 6 months or younger
____ Follow recommended dosage by weight (preferred) or age on container
____ Don't continue medication too long

If any of the following:
          - Child is 3 months or younger
          - Child continues to experience discomfort
          - Child is lethargic
          - Child has high fever

____ Seek medical attention

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SURGERY
Also see: DOCTORS, HOSPITALS; specific ailments, injuries, parts of the body

Before:
_____ Ask your primary care (e.g., regular) doctor to recommend a specialist
_____ Get referrals from family, friends and/or associates
_____ Be aware that operating rooms in hospitals are almost always required to meet more stringent requirements than those in doctors' offices
_____ Try to find a doctor who is affiliated with a hospital even if the surgery would take place in the doctor's office
_____ Check the experience of the surgeon(s) and hospital with your type of surgery
_____ Check the morbidity rate of the surgeon(s) and hospital
_____ Learn about the potential risks and benefits - so you can ask good questions
_____ Be aware that even elective surgery can be risky, especially if it requires general anesthesia
_____ Determine whether the primary surgeon will be present for the entire operation
_____ Determine whether unlicensed surgical assistants will be performing any portions of the surgery
_____ Consider giving and storing some of your blood for possible use during your surgery - to avoid the risk of receiving contaminated blood
_____ Ask about receiving protective antibiotics before surgery to help prevent an infection
_____ Ask your doctor about taking painkillers before the surgery - may result in less pain after surgery
_____ If appropriate and feasible, request that a hologram be developed of the area to be operated on (using CAT scan/MRI data) for the surgical team to review before operating
_____ Ask where incisions will be made
_____ Ask what restrictions you could experience in your activities after surgery - to determine what kind of assistance you might require and to help decide if and when to have the surgery
_____ Research your type of surgery (e.g., on the Internet)
_____ Ask how you should prepare for the surgery, e.g.:
          - What to eat and what not to eat
          - What to bring to the hospital/office
_____ Ask to keep any body parts removed during surgery
_____ If you are used to having one or more caffeine drinks a day, ask about having some caffeine injected into your blood during surgery - to help prevent having a caffeine withdrawal headache right after surgery
_____ Ask if you can listen to an hypnosis tape during surgery

Right before:
_____ Start listening to an hypnosis tape

After:
_____ Continue listening to an hypnosis tape

COSMETIC SURGERY:
Before:

_____ Avoid, or delay, deciding to have it if you're going through a personal crisis (especially in a relationship)
_____ Determine how your life will be impacted during recovery from surgery including:
          - Ability to wear contacts
          - Ability to eat
          - Recovery treatment required e.g., bandages, ice packs
_____ Consider numerous small procedures vice a few comprehensive procedures
_____ Consider laser surgery/resurfacing (see Laser Surgery)
_____ Contact the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons for the names of board-certified surgeons in your area and request the names of some of their patients for you to contact

LASER SURGERY:
Before:

_____ Be aware of potential risks:
          - Skin may stay red for up to 8 months after treatment
          - Permanent skin discoloration or darkening
          - Permanent scarring
_____ Have a simple pre-surgical test done to determine if you have a tendency to form keyloids
_____ Ensure the doctor performing the surgery is well-trained in the procedure, especially in how to protect your eyes, etc.
_____ Ensure the doctor has taken a course approved by the American Society of Laser Surgery and Medicine - in most areas, licensed M.D.'s are not required to have specialized training and there are no guidelines for such training

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