Speak UP™

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.

Speak up…

  • 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.

Pay attention…

  • 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.

Educate yourself…

  • 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)