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Saturday, 1 October 2011

10 Top Tips from Doctors for Patient Safety

I recently had to go to the emergency room to deal with some asthma problems that had gotten out of control. While I was there, I received a flyer from the doctors. This flier provided me with information about how to make sure that I stay safe and healthy as a patient in the hospital. I found it really interesting that the hospital provides this information. And I think it’s really great that they do. I fully believe that patients should do all that they can to be informed about their own care and to be proactive in getting involved in making medical decisions in cooperation with their doctors. That’s what most of these tips were about.
I thought that the tips were so great that I figured I would share them here. Here were the top ten patient safety tips provided by my doctors:
1. Read every single medical form that you receive. I’ll admit that I didn’t do too well at following this patient safety rule myself. I was admitted through the emergency room and I was obviously not feeling well so I just kind of signed the papers and accepted them without paying them too much attention. I will try not to make that mistake again because I do believe that it’s important for patients to read all of their forms whether they are doctor’s prescriptions or information about your meds or tips like the ones I received from the hospital.
2. Review all procedures with your doctor before you go through them. This goes along the same lines as the first one but it involves actually speaking with your doctor about what’s going on. Basically you should just ask a lot of questions and make sure that you understand everything that is going on and that is about to happen. This helps you to double-check what the doctor is doing and to put your own two cents in if something doesn’t seem quite right for you.
3. Double-check that the doctor knows who you are. This may sound silly but it’s true. Doctors and nurses make mistakes when they’re in a hurry. Make sure that they have checked your ID or medical band whenever they are about to give you tests or prescribe medication. You want to only get the right stuff done, don’t you?!
4. Be extra careful when moving around the doctor’s office or hospital. If you have taken any medications or even if you just aren’t feeling well then you may be more likely to fall or have an accident. Be aware of this fact and move carefully and slowly. Get help if you need it.
5. Wash your hands and make sure that others do too. There is a reason that one of the top health tips is that you wash your hands regularly; it keeps you healthy. This is particularly important when your immune system is down so be extra sure to wash your hands regularly when staying in a hospital or seeing a doctor. Make sure that doctors, nurses and visitors all do this as well.
6. Do what you can to boost your immune system  before planned trips to the hospital. Eating healthier and sleeping right are two things that you can do to give your immune system a boost.
7. Know about medication safety before you have to go to a doctor or hospital. There are many different things involved in making sure that you use medications safely. A really important part of this is knowing what medicines you are taking and making sure that any doctors or anyone prescribing medications to you also know that you are taking these meds. Knowing about any allergies to medications is also important. Being aware of side effects when taking meds and reporting those side effects to your doctor is another thing. Read up on meds safety so that you can always use medications properly when you’re being cared for in a hospital or at a doctor’s office.
8. Be an active participant in your medical care. The main point that I hope you take away from this article is that it is crucial for you as a patient to be actively participating in your care. You shouldn’t just unquestioningly do whatever the doctor says you should do but instead should ask questions and make your own informed decisions about your medical care. Only you truly know what’s best for you so be as involved as is reasonably possible in all of your medical care.
9. Speak up! This is part of being an active participant in your own care but it’s so important that it requires its own bullet point here. Many people take all of the first steps in patient safety but then fail to actually speak up if they see that something doesn’t seem right. They’re afraid or they feel like they should defer to the “experts”. Don’t hesitate to speak up if you have questions or concerns. A good doctor is going to be glad that you did.
10. Have a friend or family member advocate for you. It is important to have someone at the hospital or doctor’s office with you to help you to do all of these things. In cases when you may be too out of it to advocate for yourself (as I described in the first point of this article) this person can do these things that you would otherwise be doing and can help to make sure that you stay safe.

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