Questions to Ask Your Health Professional

You will have questions about diseases or conditions, medications or treatments. You might find it helpful to take a list of questions when you visit your health professional.


Depending on the reason for your visit, these questions may include:

  • What’s wrong with me?
  • Exactly what type of procedure or treatment are you proposing?
  • What are the risks of the procedure?
  • Is there any alternative treatment?
  • How long will the procedure take?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Will my health fund cover the cost?
  • What drugs will I be given? What side effects might they have?
  • How long will I be unwell or unable to work?
  • Can I have a second opinion?
  • If I sign this, what am I agreeing to?
  • Can you explain everything again in terms that I can understand?

 

 

Using medicines safely

 

 

The Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and the ACT Health Directorate are committed to the quality use of medicines (QUM).  Quality use of medicines is about ensuring that medicines are used most effectively to achieve longer and better lives. This includes prescribing and providing access to the right medicine for each particular health consumer, ensuring that these medicines are being used correctly, as well as access to alternate and complementary therapies.


There are a number of projects that are looking to improive medication safety and the qaulity use of mediciens by health profesisonals as well as consumers.  There is National Strategy in place for QUM to make the best possible use of medicines to improve health outcomes for all Australians.


Medicine Update
is an online publication produced by National Prescribing Service, designed to be used by consumers who are considering new medicines. It aims to highlight important information about how the medicine is used in therapy, how it compares with other therapies, provides any important safety information and explains the conditions of its listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

 

To report on or advice seek advice regarding adverse drug reactions or errors associated with medicine use, please contact the Adverse Medicines Event Line on 1300 134 237 between 9am and 5pm (AEST) for the cost of a local call.

 

The Adverse Medicine Events (AME) Line :

  • Provides consumers with a mechanism to report adverse experiences with medicines.
  • Provides an opportunity for consumers to consult with a pharmacist about medicine safety.
  • Ensures that consumers' concerns about medicine safety are taken seriously and reported to the relevant authority.


 

Making Complaints

For health services to improve it is important that consumers provide feedback on their experiences. This can include compliments, suggestions or complaints.

 

ACT Health Directorate


ACT Health has an online feedback form that we encourage people to use.

 

 

You can also download a Consumer Feedback Form (298kb PDF) and mail it to:

 

The Consumer Feedback Coordinator
Patient Safety & Quality Unit
ACT Health PO Box 11
WODEN ACT 2601


ACT Health Services Commissioner

 

HSC logo

 

The ACT Health Services Commissioner is Mary Durkin. The Health Services Commissioner's mandate is to deal with complaints about the provision of health services and services for older people, and complaints about contraventions of the privacy principles or of a consumer's right of access to his or her health records under the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997.

The Health Professionals Act 2004 involves the Commissioner in working with Health Professions Boards to maintain minimum standards in service provision and to protect public safety by ensuring health service providers meet suitability to practice requirements.

Compaints are required in writing and the Commission staff are able to assit you to compelte the complaints form. You can contact the Commission by phone on (02) 6205 2222.

 

Private Health Insurance Ombudsman


PHIO logo

 

The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO) provides an independent service to help consumers with health insurance problems and enquiries.

The Ombudsman can deal with complaints from health funds, private hospitals or medical practitioners. Complaints need to be about private health insurance or a related matter. They can be about a private health fund, a broker, a hospital, a medical practitioner, a dentist or other practitioners (as long as the complaint relates to private health insurance).

However, complaints about the quality of service or treatment provided by a health professional or a hospital should be directed to the health care complaints body for your state or territory.

The Ombudsman cannot deal with complaints about Medicare. Complaints about Medicare should be directed to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

 

Health Services in the ACT

A complete ACT Health Services Directory is available online (pdf 125kb)

The ACT Government also has a Find A Health Service page on the ACT Health website.

 

Quick Telephone Reference

  • Canberra Hospital (02) 6244 2222
  • Community Health (02) 6207 9977
  • Calvary Hospital (02) 6201 6111
  • healthdirect (previously called healthfirst) gives you easy access to health advice, and information about general practice and after hours medical, pharmacy and dental services in your local area. Call 1800 022 222
  • Mental Health ACT 1800 629 354
  • ACT Pathology (02) 6244 2930
  • Community Health Intake Line to access a range of Community Health services and information 8am - 5pm Monday to Friday (02) 6207 9977
  • Interpreter Service 13 1450

 

 

Ten Tips for Safer Health Care

This summary was produced by the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care, which has been set up by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to improve the safety of health care in Australia.

These 10 Tips can help you to become more active in your health care. More questions you might want to ask your health care professional are contained in the 10 Tips for Safer Health Care booklet (270kb Pdf).


1. Be actively involved in your own health care


Take part in every decision to help prevent things from going wrong and get the best possible care for our needs.


2. Speak up if you have any questions or concerns


Ask questions. xpect answers that you can understand. sk a family member, carer or interpreter to be there ith you, if you want.


3. Learn more about your condition or treatments


Collect as much reliable information as you can.

Ask your health care professional:

  • what should I look out for?
  • please tell me more about my condition, tests and treatment.
  • how will the tests or treatments help me and what is involved?
  • what are the risks and what is likely to happen if I don’t have this treatment?

4. Keep a list of all the medicines you are taking


Include:

  • prescriptions, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (eg vitamins and herbs); and
  • information about drug allergies you may have.

5. Make sure you understand the medicines you are taking


Read the label, including the warnings. Make sure it is what your doctor ordered for you.
Ask about:

  • directions for use;
  • possible side effects or interactions; and
  • how long you’ll need to take it for.

6. Get the results of any test or procedure


Call your doctor to find out your results. Ask what they mean for your care.


7. Talk about your options if you need to go into hospital


Ask:

  • how quickly does this need to happen?
  • is there an option to have the surgery/procedure
  • done as a day patient, or in an alternative hospital?

8. Make sure you understand what will happen if you need surgery or a procedure


Ask:

  • what will the surgery or procedure involve and are
  • there any risks?
  • are there other possible treatments?
  • how much will it cost?

Tell your health care professionals if you have allergies or if you have ever had a bad reaction to an anaesthetic or any other drug.


9. Make sure you, your doctor and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done


Confirm which operation will be performed and where, as close as possible to it happening.


10. Before you leave hospital, ask your health care professional to explain the treatment plan you will use at home


Make sure you understand your continuing treatment, medicines and follow-up care. Visit your GP as soon as possible after you are discharged.


These 10 Tips have been adapted from the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality patient fact sheets.


This Agency provides consumer information on how to be actively involved and receive safer health care.

Five Steps to Safer Health Care
This fact sheet (365kb Pdf) tells what you can do to get safer health care. It was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association.

20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors

The single most important way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team. This fact sheet (222kb Pdf) provides other tips on how to prevent medical errors