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Five Smart Tips for Safer Healthcare

Medical errors can stem from seemingly small problems.  Here are five things you can do, as a health care consumer, to make sure your care is given in the safest and most effective way:

  • Be an informed patient.
    • Ask as many questions as you can, especially about illnesses or conditions that can or do affect you
    • Do some independent research and talk about it with your doctor
    • Choose a facility that best suits your treatment needs
    • Seek more than one opinion
  • Stay on top of your medical history
    • Keep records of other doctors you’ve seen
    • Keep records of any treatments or medications you’ve received
    • Remember any medications you currently take
  • Work with your doctor
    • Share your medical history and any helpful, pertinent information you can give
    • Ask questions and voice your concerns
    • Make sure you are clear about all aspects of your treatment
  • Involve a family member or friend
    • In case you are not able to record the aspects of your treatment, involve a family member or friend to keep track on your behalf
  • Follow the treatment plan you are given
    • Again, make sure you understand all aspects of your treatment
    • If possible, obtain a written set of instructions
    • Report anything (e.g., complication, different sensation) that is not expected or previously discussed, if it arises

Making yourself a smarter consumer is the first step to avoiding mismanagement by a healthcare professional.

For more information about how to be a smarter healthcare consumer, visit the National Patient Safety Foundation.

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