This article is about the patient safety goals from National Patient Safety Awareness Week recognized by the National Patient Safety Foundation. The article outlines several recommendations for patients to follow to ensure safer healthcare, including being informed, keeping track of medical history, getting a second opinion, and keeping medical providers informed if the condition changes or worsens. Additionally, the article emphasizes the importance of communication and understanding between patients and healthcare providers and keeping the pharmacist informed about medications.
From your long wait at the doctor’s office or pharmacy to have your prescription filled, you know that health care providers may be stretched to their limit or beyond. Even highly competent and dedicated health care professionals make mistakes that end up jeopardizing our personal medical safety when they are overworked. Such is why it is so important to be involved in your own medical care and to be informed about your own medical condition, as this Foundation suggests.
If you have the time before your appointment, do some medical research on-line to get an idea of your illness and possible causes. Then ask lots of questions, even if you cannot do research beforehand. For some reason, people are intimidated or too trusting around medical professionals to ask questions. Qualified and concerned doctors welcome questions from their patients. It helps them give you the proper care you need to get better. They want you to get better, too! Health care providers should not hesitate to answer any questions you have and if they do, find another provider. Don’t hesitate to ask about any subject on your care and treatment, and understand what you need to do, or not do, in order to heal.
A detailed and complete medical history can lead to a more accurate diagnosis and can help your health care provider find the right treatment to help you feel better.
Pharmacists are a key element of the health care system, and need to be active partners in our medical safety. The Institute of Medicine reported in July of 2006 that medication errors harm or kill more than 1.5 million people annually. Unfortunately, medication errors are all too common but to help reduce those errors, there are several things you can do.
This is a simple practice and the first line of defense in your medical safety. Wash your hands regularly and make sure those around you do the same. Do not hesitate to tell health care professions to wash their hands before examining you, or ask them to put on new gloves. “Super bugs” such as MRSA and C-Diff. are easily transmitted from patient to patient, and can be deadly, especially if health care providers neglect to follow the basic rules of hygiene and patient safety. Your mom told you to wash your hands for a reason!
Don’t be afraid to speak up and to ask questions when making health care decisions for your child. As their parent, you are their strongest advocate and best medical historian. Be aware that medication errors are more common with children because medication dosage is based on the child’s weight. Confirm the correct dosage with your pharmacist, read the label carefully before giving medication to your child, look for side effects and be aware of what to look for if your child has accidentally overdosed.
National Patient Safety Awareness Week was recognized March 2 – 8 by The National Patient Safety Foundation, a foundation supported financially by a giant pharmaceutical company, other large corporations and the American Medical Association. The foundation’s theme attempts to affirmatively place responsibility for patient safety on us as individuals, rather than the medical community and pharmaceutical manufacturers. At the Becker Law Office we agree with The National Patient Safety Foundation’s three recommendations to help ensure safer health care: that we all be informed, be involved and communicate regularly with our health care providers about our medical condition.
Follow these recommendations to help navigate the health care system more efficiently and safely. And contact a medical malpractice attorney here at Becker law if you run into any issues on your path to good health.