Published on Jul 20, 2018
Medically reviewed by Leigh Simmonds, BN, MHSc, MPH
Patient safety in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes is a growing priority. That’s why most facilities have very specific policies and programs in place to help prevent medical errors and to improve patient safety. But despite their best efforts, healthcare professionals are human beings too. Mistakes can happen sometimes. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself (or a loved one) improve your safety in a healthcare facility.
It is always important to take an active role in your health care and safety. The fact is, patients who work closely with their healthcare team tend to have better results and stay safer than patients who aren’t as involved. Some ways you can be involved include:
Have someone advocate for you
“When you’re diagnosed with a new condition or are staying in a hospital, it can be helpful to have a health advocate to help look out for your safety. This person can be a friend, relative, or professional. Talk about the things that are important to you with your advocate. For example, your advocate can make sure you’re taking the right medicines at the right time. He or she can also help you organise the instructions you’ve been given and help you follow them correctly.”
“Your advocate can also be there when you talk with your doctor or healthcare team. He or she can help make sure you understand what is being said and ask questions that you may not think of.”
Stephen Mason, CEO, Australian Patients Association
An organisation in the United States called The Joint Commission has a patient safety program called SpeakUP. SpeakUP encourages patients and caregivers to:
Speak up if you have questions or concerns.
Pay attention to the care you get.
Educate yourself about your illness.
Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate (advisor or supporter).
Know what medicines you take and why you take them.
Use a healthcare organisation that has been carefully checked out.
Participate in all decisions about your treatment.
Last reviewed: 15/08/2019
- My Hospitals
- Australian Patients Association
- Consumers Healthy Forum of Australia
- Health and Disability Commissioner