To prevent health care errors, patients are urged to…
Speak Up™ About Your Care
Everyone has a role in making health care safe-physicians, health care executives, nurses and technicians. Health care organizations across the country are working to make health care safety a priority. You, as the patient, can also play a vital role in making your care safe by becoming an active, involved and informed member of your health care team.
- If you don’t understand something or if something doesn’t seem right.
- If you speak or read another language and would like an interpreter or translated materials.
- If you need medical forms explained.
- If you think you’re being confused with another patient.
- If you don’t recognize a medicine or think you’re about to get the wrong medicine.
- If you are not getting your medicine or treatment when you should.
- About your allergies and reactions you’ve had to medicines.
- Check identification (ID) badges worn by doctors, nurses and other staff.
- Check the ID badge of anyone who asks to take your newborn baby.
- Don’t be afraid to remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands.
- So you can make well-informed decisions about your care.
- Ask doctors and nurses about their training and experience treating your condition.
- Ask for written information about your condition.
- Find out how long treatment should last, and how you should feel during treatment.
- Ask for instruction on how to use your medical equipment.
Advocates (family members and friends) can help…
- Give advice and support — but they should respect your decisions about the care you want.
- Ask questions, and write down important information and instructions for you.
- Make sure you get the correct medicines and treatments.
- Go over the consent form, so you all understand it.
- Get instructions for follow-up care, and find out who to call if your condition gets worse.
Know about your new medicine…
- Find out how it will help.
- Ask for information about it, including brand and generic names.
- Ask about side effects.
- Find out if it is safe to take with your other medicines and vitamins.
- Ask for a printed prescription if you can’t read the handwriting.
- Read the label on the bag of intravenous (IV) fluid so you know what’s in it and that it is for you.
- Ask how long it will take the IV to run out.
Use a quality health care organization that…
- Has experience taking care of people with your condition.
- Your doctor believes has the best care for your condition.
- Is accredited, meaning it meets certain quality standards.
- Has a culture that values safety and quality, and works every day to improve care.
Participate in all decisions about your care…
- Discuss each step of your care with your doctor.
- Don’t be afraid to get a second or third opinion.
- Share your up-to-date list of medicines and vitamins with doctors and nurses.
- Share copies of your medical records with your healthcare team.
(Reprinted with permission from The Joint Commission)