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Israeli studies show,  that the vast majority of patients do not understand all the details of their condition or the ramifications of their prescribed treatment. Part of the reason, feels Dr. Poriyah Shachaf, who heads Clalit’s Medical  Patient Wellbeing and Risk Management Department, is that they simply don’t ask.

Her new program features signs posted all over the hospital reminding the patients to ask the following basic questions of their doctors:

1. What is this treatment or operation for?
2. What are the possible complications?
3. What tests will be done?
4. What are they for?
5. Who will explain the results to me, and when?
6. What medicines will be given to me?
7. How can I prevent infection and remain healthy?

Annals of Emergency Medicine published findings last year showing that more than 75% of emergency room patients do not fully understand the instructions given them by their doctors.

“Even people who are well-educated leave their doctors without being able to answer simple questions about their condition," Dr. Shachaf says. "Millions of people walk around without information and therefore without the proper desire to implement their doctors’ instructions, and this is liable to affect their health.”

“We are starting a new era,” she says, “in which the patient is no longer a passive object of treatment. Instead, the doctor and patient are two partners trying to seek better health. A tremendous number of mistakes can be prevented if the medical establishment is able to build a framework that includes the patients as genuine partners.”

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