One in 10 patients will be harmed when they stay in the hospital but the majority of these cases are preventable (WHO, 2019). Patients and family members may often feel lost, out of control, alone, and overwhelmed when receiving care in the healthcare system. However, patients and family members play a key part as the central person in their care and should be informed and empowered in their role. Navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming but the tools below can help you and your loved ones stay safe when receiving care.
Prepare for your healthcare or hospital visit.
It is important to prepare for your visit so that you know what to expect. That starts with an understanding of the importance of being safe in the healthcare system and where you fit in!
- Read “What Is Patient Safety?”
- Learn about how you and your loved ones can work together throughout your journey by watching “Care Coordination: Becoming a Key Partner in Care for Yourself and Your Loved One”.
- Want more information? See the “Be Safe in the Hospital: Learn How” video for more tips and tricks!
Make sure you are going to the right place for your condition and that you have selected an appropriate provider who will help you stay safe as a partner in your care.
- Have a bit of background knowledge about what to look for in a provider.
- Use tools like the LeapFrog Hospital Survey and Propublica Surgeon Scorecard to select a hospital or provider based on their ratings.
- Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How to Revolutionize Healthcare
Write down the questions you want to ask your provider, bring the relevant information for your provider, and be ready to take notes!
- See AHRQ’s “Question Builder” to help you prioritize the questions that might be useful to ask.
- See the Batz Guide: Before Your Stay.
- The Empowered Patient Coalition and Leah’s Legacy: Ten Ways to be Prepared at the Emergency Room
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or out of control in the healthcare system. While easier said than done, take steps to be as empowered as possible in your care and don’t be afraid to rely on others for help. Speak up to prevent medical errors!
- Taking Charge of Your Healthcare: Your Path to Being an Empowered Patient
- The Empowered Patient Coalition: Who’s Who in the Hospital
- Avoiding Medical Errors: 100 Rules to Help You Survive Mistakes by Doctors and Hospitals
- The Patient Experience: The Importance of Care, Communication, and Compassion in the Hospital Room
When in the healthcare visit or hospital, make sure you are involved in coordinating your care with the clinical care team.
You are the only person who will be with you throughout your entire healthcare journey, from entry, to visit, to exit, to home and community. There will be many interactions will care team members from different facilities along the way and these care team members don’t always talk to one another about your care. Therefore, it’s essential that you are prepared to coordinate your own care throughout your journey but we’ve made it easy!
- Print out or type onto the Blank Plan of Care form to track everything about your care in one place.
- Here’s an example so you can see what it could look like.
- See thecarepartnerproject.org for a number of checklists with steps you can take to prevent issues during your care.
- Here’s an example of one of the checklists.
- Consider using other guides to inform your Plan of Care Form and to help you ask probing questions of your providers.
You will likely receive a number of treatments during your visit. It is important that you not only track and document each of these treatments, but have a conversation with the care team members about the purpose of this treatment, risks, benefits, and alternatives.
- The Empowered Patient Coalition: Meaningful Informed Consent
- Empowered Patient: Opioid Pain Management
- Preparing for and Managing End of Life Care Decisions
- Collateral Damage: A Patient, A New Procedure, and the Learning Curve
Ensure you are well-prepared to take care of yourself post-hospitalization or healthcare visit.
Discharge/exit is one of the most important times during your care, as this is when the care team is preparing for you to leave the facility and continue your care elsewhere. Often, this is when information falls through the cracks and mistakes are made.
- Find people like you to reduce your sense of isolated responsibility.
- Share your experience as a patient with others: