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

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

Ask questions.

Expect answers that you can understand.

Collect as much reliable information as you can.

Ask your healthcare 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?

Write them all down, including:

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

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,
  • how long you’ll need to take it for?

Call your doctor to find out your results.

Ask what they mean for your care.


  • 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?


  • What will the surgery or procedure involve and are there any risks?
  • Are there other possible treatments?
  • How much will it cost?

Tell your healthcare professionals if you have allergies or if you have ever had a bad reaction to an anesthetic or any other drug.

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

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 (available on the Internet at