Every Day Is Patient Safety Day . . .

This week, March 11-17, 2018, is the Institute for Healthcare Improvement‘s Patient Safety Awareness Week! This year is focusing on safety culture in healthcare and patient engagement.

Despite all of the training that is required before someone becomes a doctor, nurse, medic, or tech, mistakes still happen. Maybe something doesn’t make it on to the chart that should, like an allergy to a certain medication, or maybe someone misses it while trying to update themselves on a new case. This week is about helping to limit the number of mistakes made and reduce the consequences for patients of mistakes that do happen.

One way that we can all help combat healthcare mistakes is patient engagement – each of us is a patient and we can each be involved in our own care or have a loved one or friend who can be involved for us.

  • Keep a list of your known healthcare providers (with contact information), diagnoses, medications, and allergies! Each family member should have their own list and they should all be kept together. Make sure you update it when there are any changes. Have it in an easy to find location and make sure someone you trust knows where it is or even has an extra copy. Present it to healthcare providers, including when you have to call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency.
  • Have someone trusted come into the room with you during appointments.
  • Follow up on test results if you do not hear back from the healthcare provider.
  • If you see something, say something! If something doesn’t seem right, say something! Are there new symptoms you’ve noticed? Does it look like they’re about to give a medication that there’s a known allergy to? Is someone not being treated respectfully and with care? Speak up!
  • As for a patient advocate if needed. Larger facilities, such as hospitals, are starting to have patient advocates on staff or through volunteer programs who can also help patients and their loved ones speak up about their care.
  • Ask questions! What is the main problem? What needs to be done? By the healthcare provider? By the patient? Why do these things need to be done? What new symptoms or signs need to be watched out for? What are all of the treatment options? Explain each option – procedure itself, pros, cons, etc.
  • Report problems! Healthcare providers, whether a clinic, hospital, or ambulance provider, should have a procedure in place to make complaints. Reception is a great place to start to find out the process for a specific provider.
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