A contract for patient responsibility

I often refer to myself as a fireman pouring water on the flames that are burning my patients.  Often, I view my patients as arsonists, pouring gas on the fire I am working to put out.  Taking personal responsibility is a critical component of success in any of life’s ventures.  While my patients are very responsible business and family men and women, they often take no responsibility for their own health.  This blog has been successful at helping many individuals recover and maintain their health.  It has failed to help those who continue to be irresponsible.

In an effort to clearly define my patients’ role in their healthcare, I have developed the following contract:

I AM A RESPONSIBLE PATIENT

I, (patient’s name),  am a responsible patient.  As such, I take full responsibility for my health and my healthcare.  My responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  1. Learning how to promote my own health and wellness.
  2. Learning how to deal with illness, both acute and chronic.
  3. Actively working to eliminate those unhealthy habits I have acquired over my lifetime.
  4. Eating properly, exercising, and striving to eliminate those stressors within my control.
  5. Seeking medical advice when appropriate.
  6. Understanding the medical advice I receive.
  7. Asking questions when I do not understand the advice offered.
  8. Following the medical advice when mutually agreed upon by my doctor and me.
  9. Taking my medications as prescribed.
  10. Notifying my doctor prior to stopping my medication.
  11. Notifying my doctor should I have any adverse reaction from my prescribed treatments.
  12. Keeping a list of all medications, both prescription and non-prescription (including herbals, homeopathic, and neutraceutical), that I take and who prescribed them.
  13. Bringing my medication list to the office at every visit.
  14. Knowing when I will need refills and not running out of pills.
  15. Completing diagnostic tests (lab, x-ray, EKG, etc.) in a timely fashion.
  16. Keeping my follow up appointments.
  17. Seeing consultants when necessary.
  18. Understanding my diagnosis, learning about its effects on my body and how I can help manage it.
  19. Studying.
  20. Being an active partner in my medical care.
  21. Notifying my doctor when I have added other professionals to my healthcare team.
  22. Being honest about what I am doing, taking, and who I am seeing.
  23. Paying the bill on time.
  24. Setting up a payment schedule when I cannot pay the bill and following that schedule.
  25. Know the rules of my insurance policy, what benefits are covered and what are not.
  26. Notifying the office if any contact information changes occur.
  27. Having an emergency contact listed should critical information need to be relayed to me.

My health is important to me, my family, and loved ones.  I will work hard to care for myself.  I understand that my doctor cannot help me if I will not help myself.  I expect my doctor to offer me his/her best advice based on his/her medical training.  I understand that, without my active participation, my doctor’s ability to help me is limited.  I understand that my doctor is the consulting partner, I am the working partner.  Working together, we can accomplish great things.

Stewart Segal is a family physician who blogs at Livewellthy.org.

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