Comorbidity is a medical term used to describe a patient who has multiple chronic health issues in their past medical history. It is extremely important that a healthcare provider (especially those in the hospital caring for an acute episode) knows every chronic health issue of their patient. Knowing these comorbidities allows the healthcare team to identify how the current health issue is impacting the patient and how the comorbidities affect the current illness as well. This allows the healthcare team to create a treatment plan that best fits the patient.
How Does the Healthcare Team Know You Have Comorbidity?
The healthcare team will ask a patient several questions during admittance or follow-up exam.
Some questions that will be asked include:
- Do you have any past medical history?
- Have you had any past surgeries?
- Do you have any allergies to any food, medications, or latex?
It is extremely important to be honest with a healthcare professional when asked these types of questions. They ask these questions to build a patient medical history, which helps them better serve and take care of the patient. Your healthcare provider cannot make a successful treatment plan if the patient is not honest.
How Do I Know I Need to Speak Up?
It is completely normal to not know if you have a chronic issue – do not be embarrassed but be honest. Be honest about the medications you take even if you do not know exactly what they do. Your healthcare professional will use that opportunity to educate you on each medication and why you are taking them. They can then tell you which ones are for chronic health issues and that these are comorbidities. This would be a good time to make a list and ask for printed out information sheets.