Everyone has a role in making health care safe, including physicians, health care executives, nurses, and health care technicians. Health care organizations across the country, including Wood County Hospital, work hard to make health care safety a priority. You, as a 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: Help Prevent Errors in Your Care
SPEAK UP if you have questions or concerns. If you don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.
- Your health is very important. Don't worry about being embarrassed if you don’t understand something that your doctor, nurse or other health care professional tells you. If you don't understand because you speak another language, ask to speak to someone who speaks your language. You have the right to get free help from someone who speaks the same language as you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about safety. If you are having surgery, ask the doctor to mark the area that is to be operated on.
- Don’t be afraid to tell the doctor or nurse if you think you are about to get the wrong medication or one that you are allergic to.
- Don’t be afraid to tell a health care professional if you think he or she has confused you with another patient.
PAY ATTENTION to the care you receive. Always make sure you are getting the right treatments and medicines. Don’t assume anything.
- Tell your nurse or doctor if something doesn’t seem right.
- Expect health care professionals to introduce themselves. Look for their identification (ID) badges.
- Notice whether your caregivers perform hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is the most important way to prevent infections. Don’t be afraid to remind any health care professional to do this.
- Know what time of day you normally get your medication. If you don’t receive it at that time, tell your nurse or doctor.
- Make sure your health care professional verifies your identity before he or she gives you your medicine or treatment.
EDUCATE YOURSELF about your diagnosis, your medical tests, and your treatment plan.
- Ask your doctor about special training and experience that qualifies him or her to provide medical treatment to you.
- Look for information about your diagnosis. There are many places to get information, including your doctor, the library, reputable websites, and support groups.
- You may find it helpful to write down important facts your doctor tells you to review later.
- Read all medical forms and make sure you can understand them. If you don't understand, ask your doctor or nurse to explain them.
- Make sure you know how to use the equipment that will be sent with you at discharge. If you use oxygen, do not smoke or let anyone else smoke near you.
- Ask someone you trust to be your advocate (advisor or supporter). Make sure this person understands the kind of care you want.
KNOW WHAT MEDICATIONS YOU TAKE and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.
- Ask for written information abotu the medication, including its brand and generic names, the reason you should take it, and any possible side effects.
- Tell your doctors and nurses about allergies you have or negative reactions you have had when taking a medication.
- If you do not recognize a medication, double-check with your doctor or nurse that it is the right medication for you.
- If you are given an IV, ask the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to run out.
- If you are taking mroe than one medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take them together. Do the same thing with vitamins, herbs, and over-the-counter medications.
- Make sure you understand any prescriptions you receive. If you can't read the handwriting or don't understand it, ask your doctor or nurse to explain it.
- Carry an up-to-date list of the medicines you are taking in your purse or wallet. Write down how much you take and when you take the medicine. Review the list with your doctor and other caregivers.
USE hospitals and other health care organizations that have been carefully checked out. Hospitals that have been accredited by The Joint Commission, like Wood County Hospital, are inspected regularly to see if they are meeting quality and safety standards.
- Ask about the health care organization’s experiences in caring for people with the same diagnosis you have. How often do they perform the procedure you need? What special care do they provide to help patients?
- Before you leave the hospital, make sure you understand your discharge instructions and plans for follow-up care.
PARTICIPATE in all decisions about your care and treatment. You are the center of the health care team.
- Know who will be taking care of you and what the plan for treatment is.
- Understand that more tests or medications may not always be better.
- Keep copies of your medical records from previous hospital stays and share them with your health care team. This will provide them with information about your health history.
- Don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion. If you are unsure about the best treatment for your diagnosis, talk with one or two additional doctors. The more information you have about all of the types of treatment available, the better you will feel about the decisions you make.
- Talk to your doctor about your wishes regarding resuscitation and other life-saving actions. We encourage you to discuss this with your advocate to make sure he or she understands the type of care you want if you are unconscious and not likely to get better.