With patients, share teach-back questions

Don't keep answers secret

At St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, IA, the essential information that will help patients manage their heart failure and prevent hospital admissions is provided in the form of questions. They include:

1. Tell me about your water pill.

• How often do you take it?

• What is the name of your water pill?

• Tell me why you need to take it regularly.

• Tell me how you take your water pill when you are not at home, such as when you are traveling or going to appointments.

Answer: You need to take the medicine anyway. You could alter the time that you take it a little bit, but you must not forget to take it.

2. What weight gain should you report to your doctor?

Answer: If I gain 3 pounds in one day or 5 pounds or more in one week.

3. How many salty or salty type foods are you eating in a day?

• How often do you put salt on your food when you eat or add salt when you are cooking your foods?

Answer: Never.

• How often do you eat "instant" foods that come from a can or a box, like soups, canned vegetables, and macaroni and cheese?

Answer: Rarely.

• How often do you eat salty foods like ham, lunch meat, or snack foods or crackers that have salty tops on them?

Answer: Never.

4. What symptoms do you need to report to your doctor?

Answer: Weight gain; more shortness of breath; more swelling of your feet, ankles, legs or stomach; feeling more tired — no energy; dry, hacking cough; harder to breathe when lying down; and chest pain.