Taking control of your healthcare

Being actively involved, and working in partnership with your healthcare team, can help ensure you get the care that is right for you. The information on these pages is designed to support you in becoming more confident in talking to your doctor and other healthcare workers, including nurses, pharmacists, specialists, allied health and mental health workers.

1. Asking questions

You have a right to ask questions about your health and health care. Asking questions will help
your doctor and other members of your healthcare team understand what worries you have about your health and what is important to you when deciding your treatment.

If you are not confident to ask questions, bring a family member, friend or representative to help you. You can ask for an interpreter if you would like one.

Some example questions you might want to ask:

Can you please explain that to me again?

Do I need tests or treatment and what are my treatment options?

What can I do to help myself?

Where can I get more information and support?

How will I know about appointments?

Do I need to make another appointment and should I bring someone with me?


Writing your questions down before your appointment can help you feel prepared to get the answers you need.


2. Finding good quality and reliable health information

Good-quality and reliable health information can help you make informed decisions about your health care.

The best way to get health information is to ask your healthcare team. If you seek advice from a complementary therapist (e.g. a naturopath, osteopath or traditional Chinese medicine practitioner), it is very important to let your regular healthcare team know about any treatments or advice you receive from the complimentary therapist so that everyone is working together to support you.

Information you find online is not always reliable. However, there are some great health websites that have reliable information for young people.

Reliable websites for young people:

General health information from trusted health professionals

Variety of helpful resources and support links for youth

Support for young people feeling down, low, anxious or depressed

Support for young people wanting information about alcohol &/or drugs use

All about specialised sexual health care.


3. Understand the risks and benefits of medical tests, treatments and procedures

Before making a decision about your health care, it is important that you fully understand the risks and benefits of any medical test, treatment and procedure recommended. Asking your doctor or other healthcare provider questions about your testing and treatment options will help you make better decisions together.

Make sure you get the results of any tests. Do not assume no news is good news.

Questions you can ask

Do I need any tests or treatment? 

What will the test results mean?

What are the potential risks of the test/treatment?

Are there any other options available?

What could happen if I don’t do anything (have no tests/ treatment)?

What do I and/or my family need to know about this treatment/procedure (possible complications, time in hospital, time off work)?

How do I find out if there are any costs?

How can I get a second opinion?


4. Keep a list of all the medicines you are taking

You can use the list to let your doctor and pharmacist know the medicines you are taking. Include vitamins and any other supplements on your list.

It is important you understand how to take your medication, especially if you use more than one medicine. If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels you can always ask your pharmacist.
If you take multiple medications, and need help with knowing how and when to take these medicines, you can ask your pharmacist for help with this.

Helpful information about medicines can be found at https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/medicines/


5. Confirm what will happen before your operation/procedure

Ask which doctor or other healthcare provider will be in charge of your procedure and check with them what operation they plan to perform.

If at any time you don’t understand what is being said to you, ask for the information to be repeated or explained in another way. You should be asked several questions to confirm the procedure you are having and the site of the procedure should be marked on your body with a pen.

Tell the doctor or other healthcare provider about any allergies and reactions to medicines you know of and ask them to note this in your medical record.


6. Ask about your care when you leave hospital

Ask to have your family, carer and/or representative involved in discussions about your discharge from hospital.

Ask for a written discharge plan or care plan that summarises why you came into hospital, the care you received, the plan of action when you leave the hospital and lists any follow-up appointments

Questions you can ask

Can you explain to me what I need to do to at home?

Will I need someone to look after me after the operation? 

How can I find someone to help me?

What should I do if my symptoms get worse?

Who can I contact if I need to speak with someone?

Will I be given a written discharge plan or care plan? 

Will you send the discharge plan or care plan to my GP/family doctor?


7. Know your rights

Everyone who is seeking or receiving care in New Zealand at has certain rights regarding their care. You have a right to:

  • access health care

  • receive safe and high-quality care

  • be shown respect

  • be informed about services, treatment, options and costs in a clear and open way

  • be included in decisions and choices about your care

  • privacy and confidentiality regarding the information you provide

  • comment on care and have your concerns addressed.

Click here to download our youth friendly your rights in healthcare poster for young people


8. Understand privacy and accessing your medical record

To care for you in the best way possible our doctors, nurses and other health professionals directly associated with your care need to view your health information. Other healthcare staff may need to view your information for administration, quality improvement activities, teaching and, in some cases, for medical research. We will always:

  • Keep your personal information confidential.

  • Let you view your records.

  • Acknowledge your request for corrections to your records.

  • Acknowledge your request not to release your information.

Our ADHB youth friendly Confidentiality pocket cards explain confidentiality in healthcare for young people in a quick and easy to read format. Click here to read or ask your healthcare team for one of these cards.

Click here to read more detailed information about confidentiality in healthcare.

Acknowledgements: original texts adapted from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (2017) Top tips for safe health care; ACSQHC.