Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider
YOUR CARE PROVIDERS ARE PARTNERS in your PF treatment. It is important that you have a firm understanding of your disease and how you should care for it. Ask your providers about anything relating to your treatment that you do not fully understand. Here are a few questions that may help you manage your care:
How will PF impact what I can and cannot do?
You probably already know the limits of what you can and cannot do in your everyday routine. There may be activities that you do not regularly engage in which may be impacted by your PF. This can include traveling by air or visiting high-altitude places. Your care providers can help you identify what activities may present some challenges.
What should I do and whom should I contact if I have any problems with my PF?
Having an action plan in place in case of problems is a must for anyone with a chronic disease. Ask about where you should go, who you should call, and what you should do during nights and weekends if you have a problem with your PF. You should also know who to contact if you have any questions and concerns about your current care, including your treatment.
When is the right time to start or switch treatment?
The decision to start therapy depends on your health and desires. It should be made in conjunction with your health care providers and those who will help support you, such as family and friends. Once you have started therapy, you may need to change it as your disease and needs evolve. Of course, when your treatment is not working well it is time to discuss other treatment options. However, even when treatment is working there may be better options for your needs. Asking about what options are available is a good way to find out what changes are happening in the treatment of PF and helps make sure that you get the best treatment for both your disease and lifestyle.
Will my treatment interfere with other medications I am taking?
It is very important that your care providers know all of the medications that you take regularly — both prescribed and over-the-counter — as well as any vitamins or other nutritional supplements. Asking your providers about drug-drug interactions helps ensure that all of your medications are reviewed for potentially dangerous interactions.
Are there resources that can help me lead a healthier lifestyle?
Improving your lifestyle is a critical component of improving quality of life. However, changing things like how much you exercise, your diet, and smoking habits can be very difficult. Care providers may be able to direct you to resources that can help you modify your lifestyle and adopt healthier behaviors. These can include support groups, dieticians, and personal trainers. Showing an interest in adopting healthier behaviors is the first step in accomplishing these changes.
Is a clinical trial right for me?
Clinical trials are a potential resource for patients who may not have many good treatment options. However, whether you should enroll in a clinical trial depends on many factors, including what trials are available in your area, whether you are motivated to participate, and your current condition. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, talk with your care providers about options; they will help you determine if a clinical trial is right for you.
This information has been approved by Gregory P. Cosgrove, MD (September 2012)