8 ways patients can advocate for themselves

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Patients play an integral role in their own care, and health systems and even CMS are working to get patients more engaged in their care plans. However, there are some steps patients can take on their own that could lead to better care and outcomes.

Laura Landro has been writing "The Informed Patient" column for The Wall Street Journal since 2002. "Patients often can improve their health outcomes with a bit of self-advocacy," she wrote in her latest column.

She recently listed eight ways patients can be better advocates for themselves in their care. Her advice for patients is as follows.

1. Do your own research on your condition.

2. Express healthy skepticism about your diagnosis, as diagnostic errors are common.

3. Tell your doctor everything, including things like recreational drug use and use of herbal supplements.

4. Get recommended treatments and screenings.

5. Reach out for test results, as results could get lost in the shuffle.

6. Be assertive and ask questions about medications or if a clinician washed their hands.

7. Follow instructions for prescriptions and home care.

8. Keep track of your own medical records, as "an incomplete medical record is often a starting point for flawed treatment."

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