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Health Blog :: How Can I Be More Engaged in My Healthcare?

July 08, 2022

Tips for Kidney Patients

To get a good quality healthcare, kidney patients and their advocates need to be engaged and be an active member of their healthcare team. Kidney patients are the center piece of their care. More timely care, accurate diagnoses and better outcomes are more often seen in patients who are inquisitive and understand their medications and treatment plans.

Use these tips before, during, and after your medical appointment to make sure you receive the best possible kidney care.

Before Your Appointment

  •  Make a list and write down the questions you want to ask the doctor before the visit, especially those related to your kidneys.
  •  Know what the visit is for and the current medical conditions affecting you, any relevant past surgeries, hospitalizations, or illnesses.
  •  Bring in any diaries of your blood pressures or weights to your appointment
  •  Bring in all the medicines and pills you take to your appointment. Having a list handy may also be important. This includes:
    •  Prescription medicines including drops and injectables.
    •  Non-prescription over the counter medicines, such as aspirin or antacids.
    •  Vitamins, and dietary or herbal supplements.

During Your Appointment

  •  Explain your symptoms, health history, and any problems with medicines you have taken in the past.
  •  Ask questions about your kidneys to make sure you understand what your doctor is telling you.
  •  Know your numbers. Things like your kidney function, a lab value called Creatinine or eGFR which gives an estimate of your kidney function, or degree of protein in your urine which correlates with your prognosis.
  •  Ask about your chances of progression of kidney disease. Ask about things you can do to delay this progression.
  •  Let the doctor know if you are concerned about being able to afford the medications or follow his or her directions.
  •  If your doctor recommends kidney transplant, or dialysis treatment, ask about different options.
  •  Find out what you can do on your own to delay kidney disease progression or avoid hospitalization. Ask for dietary advice, handouts, written instructions, education classes and online resources and websites.

After Your Appointment

  •  Always follow your doctor's directions and follow-up appointments. Try signing for the patient portal so you have another way of communication.
  •  If you do not understand your instructions after you get home, call the office, and ask for clarification.
  •  Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before you stop taking any medicines that your doctor prescribed. If the doctor gave you sick day advice, make sure you hold medications on sick days as instructed.
  •  Call your doctor if your symptoms get worse or if you have difficulty following the instructions.
  •  Add your appointments to your calendar to have labs or tests done or see a specialist if you were referred to one. Set reminders for those appointments.
  •  Write through the portal or call your doctor's office to find out test results that were done. Ask what you should do about the results or if there needs to be any changes.
  •  Avoid agents that may be toxic to the kidneys, especially over the counter pain medications, like Advil, Motrin and Aleve.
  •  Be active and follow a healthy diet for your overall health and the health of your kidneys.
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