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To prevent health care errors, patients are urged to "Speakup" I use this list.
This is what Speakup stands for:
Speakup 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.
- Your health is to important to worry about being embarrassed if you don't understand something that your doctor,
nurse or other health care professional tells you.
- Don't be afraid to ask about safety. If your having surgery, for example, ask the doctor to mark the area
that is to be operated upon, so that there is no confusion in the operating room.
- Don't be afraid to tell the nurse or the doctor if you think you are about to receive the wrong medication.
- Don't hesitate to tell the health care professional if you think he or she has confused you with another patient.
Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you
are getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don't assume anything.
- Tell your nurse or doctor if something doesn't seem quite right.
- Expect health care workers to introduce themselves when they enter your room and look for their identification
badges. A new mother, for example, should know the person to whom she is handing her baby. If unsure, ask.
- Notice whether your caregivers have washed their hands. Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the
spread of infections. Don't be afraid to gently remind a doctor or nurse to do this.
- Know what time of day you normally receive a medication. If it doesn't happen, bring this to the attention
of your nurse or doctor.
- Make sure your nurse or doctor confirms your identity, that is, checks your wristband or asks your name, before he
or she administers any medication or treatment.
Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.
- Ask your doctor about the specialized training and experience that qualifies him or her to treat your
illness (and be sure to ask the same questions of those physicians to whom he or she refers you).
- Gather information about your condition. Good sources include your doctor, your library, respected websites
and support groups.
- Write down important facts your doctor tells you, so that you can look for additional information later.
And ask your doctor if he or she has any written information you can keep.
- Thoroughly read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything. If you don't
understand, ask your doctor or nurse to explain them.
- Make sure you are familiar with the operation of any equipment that is being used in your care. If you will
be using oxygen at home, do not smoke or allow anyone to smoke near you while oxygen is in use.
Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
- Your advocate can ask questions that you may not think of while you are under stress.
- Ask this person to stay with you, even overnight, when you are hospitalized. You will be able to rest more
comfortably and your advocate can help to make sure you get the right medications and treatments.
- Your advocate can also help to remember answers to questions you have asked, and speak up for you if you cannot.
- Make sure this person understands your preferences for care and your wishes concerning resuscitation and life support.
- Review consents for treatment with your advocate before you sign them and make sure you both understand exactly
what you are agreeing to.
Know what medications you take and why you take
them. Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.
- Ask about the purpose of the medication and ask for written information about it, including its brand and
generic names. Also inquire about the side effects of the medication.
- If you do not recognize a medication, verify that it is for you. Ask about oral medications before swallowing,
and read the contents of bags of intravenous (IV) fluids. If you are not well enough to do this, ask your advocate
to do this.
- If you are given an IV, ask the nurse how long it sould take for the liquid to "run out". Tell the nurse if it
doesn't seem to be dripping properly (that it is too fast or too slow).
- Whenever you are going to receive a new medication, tell your doctors and nurses about allergies you have, or
negative reactions you have had to medications in the past.
- If you are taking multiple medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take those medications
together. This holds true for vitamins, herbal supplements and the over-the-counter drugs, too.
- Make sure you can read the handwriting on any prescriptions written by your doctor. If you can not read it,
the pharmacist may not be able to either.
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 the Joint Commission.
- Ask about the health care organization's experience in treating your type of illness. How frequently do they
perform the procedure you need and what specialized care do they provide in helping patients get well?
Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You
are the center of the health care team.
- You and your doctor should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of your care.
- Know who will be taking care of you, how long the treatment will last, and how you should feel.
- Understand that more tests or medications may not always be better. Ask your doctor what a new test or medication
is likely to achieve.
- Keep copies of your medical records from previous hospitalizations and share them with your health care team.
This will give them a more complete picture of your health history.
- Don't be afraid to seek a second opinion. If you are unsure about the nature of your illness and the best
treatment, consult with one or two additional specialists. The more information you have about the options available
to you, the more confident you will be in the decisions made.
- Ask to speak with others who have undergone the procedure you are considering. These individuals can help you
prepare for the days and weeks ahead. They also can tell you what to expect and what worked best for them as they
Speak Up Initiatives:
There are NO copyright or reprinting permissions required for the Speak Up materials or copy.
In references to the materials or copy, we do ask that the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations be credited as the source for the materials or copy.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
is the source for the materials or copy of this article.
These are really important rules to go by when you need to seek medical attention. Unfortunately there can be big differences in how one medical practitioner deals with an illness compared to another. I say this out of experience and
really recommend getting a second opinion. I will also recommend that one of those places to check with be the Mayo Clinic
in Rochester Mn. they are in my opinion the most up to date and most highly Professional providers in the world. My wife just
had a procedure done at Mayo recently and both of us were very impressed. We were told that the procedure could not be
done by a Doctor at our local Clinic, but was a very normal procedure at the Mayo Clinic. I also talked to a lady being
treated for cancer there and was stunned by the differences in the philosophy of treatment from my home town clinic and the Mayo.
My Mother died of cancer and my wifes Mother has liver cancer now. My mom was almost over dosed by a Nurse while in a
Hospital in my town, I have witnessed several incidents of the wrong medications or amount of medication being
administered, so like it says above Speakup and be aware of everything concerning your medical treatments. If you
relate it to your own work, you are never perfect at your work everyday, no one is. Hopefully our coworkers point out
our mistakes when we have those off days, medical people are just like you and I, they can not always be perfect
everyday. If you help them by knowing everything about your medical situation, you and your medical team will have a
better chance of an excellent out come.
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