Health Topics

Health system

Personal Health Records
National Library of Medicine
Confidentiality
Electronic Health Records
HIPAA
Patient Portals
Patient Records
Privacy
Patient health record

You've probably seen your chart at your doctor's office. In fact, you may have charts at several doctors' offices. If you've been in the hospital, you have a chart there, too. These charts are your medical records. They may be on paper or electronic. To keep track of all this information, it's a good idea to keep your own personal health record.

What kind of information would you put in a personal health record? You could start with

  • Your name, birth date, blood type, and emergency contact information
  • Date of last physical
  • Dates and results of tests and screenings
  • Major illnesses and surgeries, with dates
  • A list of your medicines and supplements, the dosages, and how long you've taken them
  • Any allergies
  • Any chronic diseases
  • Any history of illnesses in your family

Meaningful Use
Health Records, Personal
Social/Family Issues
Health System
Personal Health Issues
You've probably seen your chart at your doctor's office. In fact, you may have charts at several doctors' offices. If you've been in the hospital, you have ...
Choosing a Doctor or Health Care Service
National Library of Medicine

We all want high-quality health care, but it's hard to know how to choose. There are many things to consider, including

  • What your insurance covers
  • Whether a health care provider or service is accredited
  • The location of a service
  • Hours that the service is available
  • Whether you like a health care provider's personality

On this page you'll find information to help you choose a health care provider or service.


Physician-Patient Relations
Delivery of Health Care
Health System
Personal Health Issues
We all want high-quality health care, but it's hard to know how to choose. There are many things to consider, including What your insurance covers Whether ...
Medical Ethics
National Library of Medicine
Bioethics

The field of ethics studies principles of right and wrong. There is hardly an area in medicine that doesn't have an ethical aspect. For example, there are ethical issues relating to

  • End of life care: Should a patient receive nutrition? What about advance directives and resuscitation orders?
  • Abortion: When does life begin? Is it ethical to terminate a pregnancy with a birth defect?
  • Genetic and prenatal testing: What happens if you are a carrier of a defect? What if testing shows that your unborn baby has a defect?
  • Birth control: Should it be available to minors?
  • Is it ethical to harvest embryonic stem cells to treat diseases?
  • Organ donation: Must a relative donate an organ to a sick relative?
  • Your personal health information: who has access to your records?
  • Patient rights: Do you have the right to refuse treatment?
  • When you talk with your doctor, is it ethical for her to withhold information from you or your family?

Ethics, Medical
Social/Family Issues
Health System
Personal Health Issues
The field of ethics studies principles of right and wrong. There is hardly an area in medicine that doesn't have an ethical aspect. For example, there are ...
Palliative Care
National Library of Medicine

Palliative care is treatment of the discomfort, symptoms, and stress of serious illness. It provides relief from distressing symptoms including

  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Problems with sleep

It can also help you deal with the side effects of the medical treatments you're receiving.

Hospice care, care at the end of life, always includes palliative care. But you may receive palliative care at any stage of an illness. The goal is to make you comfortable and improve your quality of life.

NIH: National Institute of Nursing Research


Palliative Care
Health System
Personal Health Issues
Palliative care is treatment of the discomfort, symptoms, and stress of serious illness. It provides relief from distressing symptoms including Pain Shortness of ...
Patient Rights
National Library of Medicine
Informed Consent
Ombudsman Programs
Privacy
Second Opinion

As a patient, you have certain rights. Some are guaranteed by federal law, such as the right to get a copy of your medical records, and the right to keep them private. Many states have additional laws protecting patients, and health care facilities often have a patient bill of rights.

An important patient right is informed consent. This means that if you need a treatment, your health care provider must give you the information you need to make a decision.

Many hospitals have patient advocates who can help you if you have problems. Many states have an ombudsman office for problems with long term care. Your state's department of health may also be able to help.


Patient Rights
Health System
Personal Health Issues
As a patient, you have certain rights. Some are guaranteed by federal law, such as the right to get a copy of your medical records, and the right to keep ...
Patient Safety
National Library of Medicine

You can help prevent medical errors by being an active member of your health care team. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. To reduce the risk of medical errors, you can

  • Ask questions if you have doubts or concerns. Take a relative or friend to your doctor appointment to help you ask questions and understand answers.
  • Make sure you understand what will happen if you need surgery
  • Tell your health care providers about all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements. Tell them if you have any allergies or bad reactions to anesthesia. Make sure you know how to take your medications correctly.
  • Get a second opinion about treatment options
  • Keep a copy of your own health history

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality


Patient Harm
Patient Safety
Health System
Personal Health Issues
You can help prevent medical errors by being an active member of your health care team. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care ...
Rural Health Concerns
National Library of Medicine

People in rural areas face some different health issues than people who live in towns and cities. Getting health care can be a problem when you live in a remote area. You might not be able to get to a hospital quickly in an emergency. You also might not want to travel long distances to get routine checkups and screenings. Rural areas often have fewer doctors and dentists, and certain specialists might not be available at all.

Because it can be hard to get care, health problems in rural residents may be more serious by the time they are diagnosed. People in rural areas of the United States have higher rates of chronic disease than people in urban areas. They also have higher rates of certain types of cancer, from exposure to chemicals used in farming.


Rural Population
Rural Health Services
Rural Health
Health System
People in rural areas face some different health issues than people who live in towns and cities. Getting health care can be a problem when you live in a remote ...
Talking With Your Doctor
National Library of Medicine
Communicating With Your Healthcare Provider
Second Opinion

How well you and your doctor communicate with each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Being prepared can help make the most of your visit. Here are some things you can bring:

  • Lists of your concerns, any allergies and all the medicines, herbs, or vitamins you take
  • A description of symptoms - when they started, what makes them better
  • A trusted friend or family member
  • A way to take notes during your appointment

Make sure you understand your diagnosis and any treatments. Ask your health care provider to write down his or her instructions to you. If you still have trouble understanding, ask where you can go for more information.


Dentist-Patient Relations
Physician-Patient Relations
Nurse-Patient Relations
Social/Family Issues
Health System
Personal Health Issues
How well you and your doctor communicate with each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Being prepared can help make the ...
International Health
National Library of Medicine
Global Health

The spread of a disease doesn't stop at a country's borders. With more people traveling to other countries and living in crowded cities, it's easier for germs to spread. Infectious diseases that start in one part of the world can quickly reach another. Resistance to medicines such as antbiotics is on the rise. This makes it harder to treat certain diseases. Natural and man-made disasters create refugee populations with immediate and long-term health problems.

Some of the major diseases currently affecting countries around the globe include HIV/AIDS, malaria, Zika, and tuberculosis. Climate change is also an international problem which can affect people's health. Many countries and health organizations are working together and sharing information on these and other health issues.


Global Health
Health System
The spread of a disease doesn't stop at a country's borders. With more people traveling to other countries and living in crowded cities, it's easier for ...
Financial Assistance
National Library of Medicine

Health care can be costly. If you have health insurance, it usually pays at least part of your medical costs. If you don't have insurance or need help with costs that aren't covered, financial assistance might be available. Certain government programs and nonprofit organizations can help. You can also discuss concerns about paying your medical bills with your health care provider, social worker or the business office of your clinic or hospital.


Medical Assistance
Social/Family Issues
Health System
Health care can be costly. If you have health insurance, it usually pays at least part of your medical costs. If you don't have insurance or need help with ...