Patients as Partners: Optimizing Your Care

Welcome to University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin - where YOU are the most important member of your health care team.

We encourage you to become actively involved in your care and treatment decisions, and to speak up if you:

  • Have questions or concerns
  • Don't understand something that a doctor, nurse or other member of your health care team has told you
  • Are wondering whether something is right

You may also choose to contact our Patient Relations Department at (608) 263-8009 to discuss concerns about safety or the care you have received.

The health care professionals at UW Health are committed to bring you quality health care while providing personal attention to meet your health care needs. University Hospital has earned the status of being one of the nation's leading medical centers; therefore, you can trust your health care team's knowledge and judgment.

Patients, family members and primary support persons are an important link in the circle of care and share the responsibility for a safe health care experience. You owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about your diagnosis and treatment plan.


Handwashing Helps Prevent the Transfer of Germs

UW Health's health care professionals follow routine procedures to help protect our patients from the spread of communicable diseases. These procedures include washing hands and using alcohol gel after entering patients' room. If you notice that a team member has not washed his or her hands or used alcohol gel upon entering your room, please don't be afraid to offer a friendly reminder.

Ensuring Accurate Identification


We strive to provide a safe atmosphere by clearly identifying all employees, physicians and patients.

  • Expect your health care providers to introduce themselves
  • Look for identification badges on all personnel
  • If you are admitted into the hospital, make sure that you are wearing an accurate patient identification bracelet at all times
  • Make sure that your health care team checks your patient identification bracelet before giving you medications or treatments
  • Make sure you have been properly identified by either your patient wristband or by being asked your name and birth date or medical record number

Medications at the Hospital or Clinic Visit

  • Bring your medications and/or medication list and include the names and doses for each medication, how often you take them and for what reason
  • Include vitamins, herbal supplements, other over-the-counter medications and any substance used without a prescription on your medication list
  • Inform your health care team of any known drug allergies you may have
  • Before taking any new medications, be sure you understand what medication you will be taking, how often and why
  • Ask about side effects and what will happen if you don't take the medication
  • If a new medication was prescribed or medication changes were made, don't leave without a complete list of all medications you should be taking from this point forward
  • Only take medications prescribed by your doctor
  • Ask whether you should take your usual medications before and after surgery
  • Review your medication list and 'at home' instructions

At the Pharmacy

  • Make sure your name is accurate on the label of your medications
  • Read the label and make sure the drug you received is the same one your doctor wrote down
  • Make sure you understand how to take the drug and how often
  • Ask if it is safe to drink alcohol when taking this drug
  • Ask if it is safe to take this drug with the other drugs on your medication list
  • Read the information given about side effects and ask any questions you might have
  • Take the medication as prescribed and do not stop taking it without asking your doctor

Clear Communications and Understanding

  • Write down questions and/or concerns that you want to discuss with your physician and/or pharmacist
  • Bring a support person with you whenever possible
  • Don't be afraid to ask for clarification or for more details
  • Don't hesitate to get a second opinion – it is not an insult to your physician
  • Speak up if something doesn't seem right
  • Ask to hear communication between team members that pertains to your care
  • Make sure you understand all forms you are being asked to sign

If You're Having Surgery

  • If you are scheduled to have surgery, the physician will explain what is going to be done during surgery. In some cases, the physician will mark the site in advance. This is to verify the right site for the surgery.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions about what is going to be done and what your alternatives are (including the impact of not having the surgery).
  • Make sure that your health care team takes a final "Time Out" prior to surgery to verify right person, right surgery, and right site.
  • Understand what follow-up care is needed.
  • Make sure you understand the care you will need after discharge.
  • Make sure you understand your "at home" instructions.
  • Ask about follow-up appointments.
  • Have the names and phone numbers of your health care team to call if questions or concerns arise.

Additional Resources for You


There are many resources available to you that will help you be a better informed patient and to help you actively make decisions about your medical care and treatment.