National Patient Safety Awareness Week
By Theresa Guenther, Executive Director of Clinical Quality
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital
Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 3-9, 2013, is an annual education and awareness campaign for health care safety. The theme for 2013 is Patient Safety 7/365: 7 days of recognition, 365 days of commitment to safe care. This is a week to recognize the advancements that have been made in the patient safety arena, while acknowledging the challenges that remain—and committing to work on them, every day.
This year’s theme highlights the need for everyone to understand the importance of patient safety and to recognize the range of efforts being made to improve health safety in the United States and worldwide. Moreover, the campaign seeks to make patients, providers and the public aware of the ways they can participate in these efforts and partner to improve patient safety. While efforts of the past decade have brought improvements, recent studies indicate that much work remains to be done—and can be done most effectively through the involvement of all parties.
If a medical error occurs, it is often a result of a series of small failures that are individually not big enough to cause an accident but combined can result in an error. Patients can ensure a safer experience with the health care system by being involved and informed about their treatment. Improving patient safety requires continuous learning and constant communication between caregivers, organizations and patients. Everyone has a role in patient safety, and everyone will benefit from its successes.
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital continues to promote the highest level of care driven by patient safety in all aspects of care. Avera Sacred Heart Hospital recognizes that patients have an active role in making their care safer by being active, involved and an informed member of their health care team. What can consumers do to make sure they have a safer experience with a health care system?
Become a more informed health care consumer.
- Seek information about illnesses or conditions that affect you.
- Research options and possible treatment plans.
- Choose a doctor, clinic, pharmacy and hospital experienced in the type of care you require.
- Ask questions of your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or benefits plan coordinator.
- Seek more than one opinion.
Keep track of your history.
- Write down your medical history including any medical conditions, illnesses, immunizations, allergies, hospitalizations, all medications and dietary supplements you’re taking, and any reactions or sensitivities you’ve experienced.
- Write down the names and phone numbers of your doctors, clinics and pharmacies for quick, easy reference.
Work with your doctor and other health care professionals as a team.
- Share your health history with your health care team.
- Share up-to-date information about your care with everyone who’s treating you.
- Make sure you understand the care and treatment you’ll be receiving. Ask questions if you’re not clear on your care.
- Pay attention. If something doesn’t seem right, call it to the attention of your doctor or health care professional.
- Discuss any concerns about your safety with your health care team.
Involve a family member or friend in your care.
- If you’re not able to observe or participate fully in your care, ask a family member or friend to assist. They can accompany you on appointments or stay with you, help you ask questions, understand care instructions and suggest your preferences.
Follow the treatment plan agreed upon by you and your doctor.
- Be sure you receive all instructions verbally and in writing that you can read and understand. Ask questions about any instructions that are confusing or unclear.
- Take medications exactly as prescribed.
- Use home medical equipment and supplies only as instructed.
- Report anything unusual to your doctor.