Health care organizations across the country are working to make health care safety a priority. Everyone has a role in making health care safe, from physicians and health care executives to nurses and technicians. Patients also play a vital role in making their care safe by becoming an active, involved and informed member of their health care team.
An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report has identified the occurrence of medical errors as a serious problem in the health care system. The IOM recommends, among other things, that a concerted effort be made to improve the public's awareness of the problem.
The "Speak Up" program, sponsored by The Joint Commission urges patients to get involved in their care. Such efforts to increase consumer awareness and involvement are supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This initiative provides simple advice on how patients can participate in making quality care a positive experience. Research shows that patients who take part in decisions about their health care are more likely to have better outcomes.
To help prevent health care errors, patients are urged to "Speak Up."
- Speak up! Patients with questions or concerns are encouraged to ask their health care team for clarification if they do not understand something.
- Patients are encouraged to pay attention to the care they are receiving. It's critical to receive the correct treatments and medications by the right health care professionals.
- Patients who are educated about their diagnosis, the medical tests they are undergoing, and their treatment plan report feeling more confident.
- Trusted family members and friends can serve as a patient's advocate and make sure he or she is getting the care and treatment needed.
- Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes. Patients should know what medications they take and why they take them.
- It's important for patients to select a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established, state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission or The Washington State Department of Health.
- Patients have a right to participate in the decisions about their treatment. We never forget that the patient is at the center of the health care team.
Speak Up information is furnished courtesy of The Joint Commission. For more detailed information on what patients and their caregivers can do to ensure their rights, please visit The Joint Commission »