Health Topics

Health system

Health Statistics
National Library of Medicine
Statistics

Health statistics are numbers that summarize information related to health. Researchers and experts from government, private, and non-profit agencies and organizations collect health statistics. They use the statistics to learn about public health and health care. Some of the types of statistics include

  • How many people in the country have a disease or how many people got the disease within a certain period of time
  • How many people of a certain group have a disease. The groups could be based on location, race, ethnic group, sex, age, profession, income level, level of education. This can help identify health disparities.
  • Whether a treatment is safe and effective
  • How many people were born and died. These are known as vital statistics.
  • How many people have access to and use health care
  • The quality and efficiency of our health care system
  • Health care costs, including how much the government, employers, and individuals pay for health care. It could include how poor health can affect the country economically
  • The impact of government programs and policies on health
  • Risk factors for different diseases. An example would be how air pollution can raise your risk of lung diseases
  • Ways to lower risk for diseases, such as exercise and weight loss to lower the risk of getting type 2 diabetes

Numbers on a graph or in a chart may seem straightforward, but that's not always the case. It's important to be critical and consider the source. If needed, ask questions to help you understand the statistics and what they are showing.


Statistics as Topic
Health System
... health care The quality and efficiency of our health care system Health care costs, including how much the government, employers, ...
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.


Delivery of Health Care
Physician-Patient Relations
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 ...
Health Facilities
National Library of Medicine
Hospitals
Health care facilities

Health facilities are places that provide health care. They include hospitals, clinics, outpatient care centers, and specialized care centers, such as birthing centers and psychiatric care centers.

When you choose a health facility, you might want to consider

  • How close it is to where you live or work
  • Whether your health insurance will pay for services there
  • Whether your health care provider can treat you there
  • The quality of the facility

Quality is important. Some facilities do a better job than others. One way to learn about the quality of a facility is to look at report cards developed by federal, state, and consumer groups.


Health Facilities
Hospitals
Health System
Health facilities are places that provide health care. They include hospitals, clinics, outpatient care centers, and specialized care centers, such as birthing ...
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 medical history

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality


Patient Safety
Patient Harm
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 ...
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

Health Records, Personal
Meaningful Use
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 ...
Rural Health Concerns
National Library of Medicine

Around 15% of people in the United States live in rural areas. There are many different reasons why you might choose to live in a rural community. You may want a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life. You may enjoy having access to big, open spaces for recreation. Rural areas are less crowded and can offer more privacy. You may choose a rural area so that you can live near your family and friends.

But there are also challenges to living in a rural area, including when it comes to taking care of your health. Compared to urban areas, rural communities tend to have:

  • Higher poverty rates
  • A higher percentage of older adults, who are more likely to have chronic health problems
  • More residents without health insurance
  • Less access to health care. For example, clinics and hospitals may be far away.
  • Higher rates of certain substance use, such as cigarette smoking and opioid and methamphetamine misuse
  • Higher rates of chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and obesity
  • More exposure to environmental hazards, such as chemicals used for farming

There are solutions to deal with these problems. A few examples include

  • Clinics offering telehealth to provide care for people who live far away from specialists or can't easily get to their providers' offices
  • Local public health agencies working with their communities to promote healthy living. They can provide wellness and exercise classes and start a farmer's market.
  • Local governments adding bike lanes and trails to encourage people to bike and walk
  • Rural schools can offer counseling and mental health services for their students

Rural Health Services
Rural Population
Rural Health
Health System
Around 15% of people in the United States live in rural areas. There are many different reasons why you might choose to live in a rural community. You may want ...
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 you make the most of your visit, whether it is in person or through telehealth. Here are some things you can do to make the most of your appointment:

  • Make lists of your concerns, any allergies and all the medicines, herbs, or vitamins you take
  • Write down a description of symptoms - when they started, what makes them better, what makes them worse, etc.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member to be with you during the appointment
  • Take notes during your appointment
  • Learn how to access your medical records, so you can keep track of test results, diagnoses, treatments plans, and medicines
  • Ask for your doctor's contact information and find out the best way to communicate with him or her

Make sure you understand your diagnosis and any treatments. If you don't understand your doctor's responses, ask questions until you do understand. Ask your doctor for written instructions if you need them. Find out where else you can go for further information.

NIH: National Institutes of Health


Physician-Patient Relations
Dentist-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 you make ...