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It’s Okay to Ask

January 14, 2009

Fear, embarrassment and limited skills often keep patients from asking their health care providers important questions. Research tells us that more than half of the Canadian population cannot understand or evaluate basic health information. How can you help?

The Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA), with ACP, are distributin It’s Okay to Ask, a simple, newspaper-style report that helps Albertans work closely with their health care providers to give and get the information they need to play an active part in their own health, safety and well-being.

It’s Okay to Ask advises patients to be open and honest with practitioners and encourages them to ask for clarification if they don’t understand their condition, or what actions they need to take and why.

It’s Okay to Ask gives patients helpful tools to track their symptoms and medications, as well as useful short lists of questions to ask practitioners that can provide clarification or reassurance about health concerns, treatment choices, medications and lifestyle changes.

It’s Okay to Ask acknowledges that many people outside the health care professions find medical terms, explanations or instructions confusing at times. The report gives people tips on how to talk to their health care providers in clear and understandable language intended to clarify terminology and eliminate any possible embarrassment on the part of the patient.

It’s Okay to Ask emphasizes that health care providers are not only here to help resolve their patients’ condition–but to help them understand what they need to do to get better and stay healthy.

You will receive a free copy of the report with the Winter 2009 edition of acpnews. Five free copies of It’s Okay to Ask are also being mailed to each pharmacy. If you would like more free copies, go to or call the HQCA office at 403.297.8162. We thank you in advance for helping us get this information to the people you serve and welcome your feedback.

HQCA – promoting and improving patient safety and health service quality across Alberta

Originally published in the January 14, 2009, issue of The Link