Staying Safe - Things Patients Can Do
Feeling vulnerable and exposed on an exam table or in a hospital bed, it's easy for a patient to feel overwhelmed, afraid and powerless.
But there are many things that you as a patient can do to empower yourself when it comes to your own health care. You don't need a medical degree to become an active, involved and informed participant on your own health care team.
To help empower patients and to prevent health care errors, The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a national Speak Up campaign encouraging patients to do the following:
- Speak up if you have questions or concerns - and if you don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.
- Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you're getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don't assume anything.
- Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing and your treatment plan.
- Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
- Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care errors.
- Use 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 Joint Commission.
- Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.
Become a Member of Your Own Health Care Team
Learn more from The Joint Commission and the Speak Up campaign about empowering yourself to be an active member of your own health care team:
- Help Prevent Errors in Your Care (pdf)
- Know Your Rights (pdf)
- Planning Your Follow-Up Care (pdf)
- Help Avoid Mistakes in Your Surgery (pdf)
- Four Things You Can Do to Prevent Infection (pdf)
- Things You Can Do to Prevent Medication Mistakes (pdf)
- Help Prevent Medical Test Mistakes (pdf)
Preventing Infections in the Hospital
When you undergo a medical procedure, you can help ensure your health and safety by taking active steps to prevent acquiring infections while you're in the hospital.