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!

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. 

Write down the questions you want to ask your provider, bring the relevant information for your provider, and be ready to take notes! 

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!

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!

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. 

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. 

Patient Safety Movement Foundation Resources

If You’ve Been Harmed

If you or a loved one has been seeking medical care, please visit to help you navigate steps that can help you get the answers you are seeking and to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else, ever again. 

Sharing Information with Others

Many others who don’t interact with the healthcare system routinely may not know how important it is that they keep themselves safe. Share the below infographics with those you know to ensure they are informed about the patient safety issue and what they can do about it!

See for information about a range of different medications, their use, risks for different types of people (e.g., men, children, students, LQBTQA+, etc).

Informational Websites


Sharing Patient Experiences


Batz Guide: Before Your Stay

Batz Guide: During Your Stay

Batz Guide: Going Home

Batz Guide: Full Patient Guide

Empowered Patient: Hospital Guide for Patients and Families

The Rory Staunton Foundation: Sepsis Kills

The Rory Staunton Foundation: Sepsis: What You Need to Know Now!


Closing Death’s Door: Legal Innovations to End the Epidemic of Healthcare Harm

Michael J. Saks & Stephan Landsman

Closing Death’s Door explores ways to improve patient safety and reduce iatrogenic injury when neither the healthcare industry itself nor the legal system has made a substantial dent in the problem. After reviewing evidence of the problem, the book explores innovative ways the law might more effectively bring about improvements in patient safety, such as by facilitating systems approaches in healthcare and correcting perverse incentives that prevent investment in safety. The series of ideas the authors present are intended to start a conversation that will lead to new legal policies that can help lower the risk of harm to patients.

Searching for Health: The Smart Way to Find Information and Put It to Use (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book)

Kapil Parakh and Anna Dirksen

An insider’s guide to searching online, communicating with your physician, and maximizing your health from a doctor who works at Google.
We’ve all been there. Late at night, staring into the glow of a phone trying to make sense of some health-related issue that we know nothing about. In Searching for Health, Dr. Kapil Parakh, with Anna Dirksen, brings to life knowledge he gained from working at Google and practicing medicine. Helping readers avoid common pitfalls, get the information they need, and partner effectively with their health team to figure out a path to good health together, the book distills decades of scientific research into a set of easy-to-follow tips.

Free resources can be found on their website:

Advice from a Patient: Insights From Those Who Needed Care for Those Who Provide Care

Haley Scott DeMaria and Diane Serbin Hopkins
Advice from a Patient is a collection of insights from patients or caregivers written as a reminder to healthcare professionals of the aspects of care that are important to different patients.  Diane S. Hopkins was one of the first Chief Experience Officers in the U.S and Haley Scott DeMaria survived injuries from a devastating bus crash when she was a member of the University of Notre Dame swim team. The two have teamed up to blend their unique long-term perspectives on the little and big things that are important to provide safe, compassionate and relevant care for each individual.  This book is a great option for book club learning for healthcare teams.

Advocacy Heals U

by Joni James Aldrich, Chris Jerry

No matter whether you are a clinician, support professional, patient, survivor or advocate, Advocacy Heals U will reach you in ways you will not expect, which is why this book has seven pages of endorsements. Every person will go through an Event that will leave them stunned; the Need becomes apparent; the Advocacy will lead to strength and healing!

Anatomy of Medical Errors: The Patient in Room 2

by Donna Helen Crisp

Donna Helen Crisp, a nurse ethicist, went into surgery expecting to go home the next morning.  Because of multiple medical errors, she spent weeks in a coma on an ICU ventilator and underwent four additional surgeries. When the hospital refused to comment, she spent years searching for – and finding – the truth of what happened to her.  As a nurse, teacher, lawyer, and patient, Crisp wrote Anatomy of Medical Errors: The Patient in Room 2 to give voice to a national conversation about improving medical care in hospitals.

Avoiding Medical Errors: 100 Rules to Help Your Survive Mistakes by Doctors and Hospitals

by Robert M. Fox and Chris Landon

Fox, a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice, and Landon, a pediatrician, deliver a practical and straightforward guide intended to help patients avoid becoming victims of the healthcare system. Starting with tips on selecting a competent doctor and verifying credentials, Fox and Landon methodically take readers through their rules for receiving quality care.

Collateral Damage: A Patient, a New Procedure, and the Learning Curve

by Dan Walter

A well-written study of one person’s experience at the hands of the most exalted research hospital in our country. Big healthcare brands don’t mean that you will get the most expert care or humane treatment.

Safe and Sound in the Hospital: Must-Have Checklists for Getting the Care You Want for the People You Love

by Karen Curtiss

1/3 of all patients are accidentally harmed by hospital care. Author, Karen Curtiss, learned this the hard way — “If I’d had Safe & Sound in the Hospital, my dad would be alive today.” With quick checklists, simple forms and clever pull-out tools, you will know how to help get safe & sound hospital care for the people you love. Make sure everyone in your family has a copy! (It’s a better gift than flowers for someone in the hospital, too!)

The Batz Guide For Bedside Advocacy,”Teaming up for the Patient”

by Laura Batz Townsend and Rachel Armbruster

The Story: Every day in the United States an estimated 550 people die from preventable medical errors, which is approximately 200,000 people a year, making it the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States (Healthgrades 2004). On April 14, my mom, Louise Batz, went to have knee replacement surgery. That night, a medical error caused Mom to sustain an injury from which she could not recover. She lost her life eleven days later. The Mission: The mission of the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation is to help prevent medical errors by ensuring that patients and families have the knowledge they need to promote a safe hospital experience for their loved ones and to support innovative advancements in patient safety.

The Empowered Patient

by Dr. Julia Hallisy

The book provides hundreds of easy-to-follow action steps regarding medical care to keep the public safe and protected.

The Patient Experience: The Importance of Care, Communication, and Compassion in the Hospital Room

by Brian Boyle

Brian Boyle tells a personal story of his fight back from near death after a horrific automobile accident. He focuses on his experience as a patient who, while in a two-month long medically induced coma, was unable to move or talk to anyone around him, yet he was able to hear, see and feel pain. Brian slowly clawed his way back to the living and found the strength to live to tell his story in his acclaimed memoir, Iron Heart.

The Savvy Diabetic: A Survival Guide

by Joanne Laufer Milo

The Savvy Diabetic: A Survival Guide is a collection of tips, tools, and techniques, borne out of experiences and mistakes and lots of on-the-job learning. After 43 years as a Type 1 diabetic, Joanne Laufer Milo had successfully and deliberately avoided hospitals. She was suddenly confronted with her worst fears: an emergency appendectomy 3000 miles away from my home. She was terrified of losing the control of her diabetes which she had worked so hard to maintain. Five years later and several more hospitalizations and doctors’ appointments, as well as many experiences with travel and life, Laufer Milo wanted to share what she has learned, hoping her insights and experiences will help you to ~ Live well and in balance with diabetes ~ Survive the medical system as a person with diabetes ~ Feel validated in your feelings about this disease ~ Have more tools to help support someone you love who has diabetes ~ Smile and even laugh about your own experiences.

Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care

by Marty Makary, M.D.

Patients need to know more of what healthcare workers know, so they can make informed choices. Accountability in healthcare would expose dangerous doctors, reward good performance, and force positive change nationally, using the power of the free market.

Your Patient Safety Survival Guide

by Dr. Gretchen LeFever Watson

Your Patient Safety Survival Guide by Dr. Gretchen LeFever Watson shows us how to make hospitals and care facilities safer. This book provides key safety habits for people to recognize so they can be sure hospital staff use them during every patient encounter. It includes concrete steps and actual scripts patients and families can use to become more effective advocates for their own safety. The book also explains how addressing the most common safety problems will set the stage for tackling other issues, including healthcare’s role in the overuse of opiate painkillers and its related heroin epidemic.

A Free Kill

Edward Salazar

This story evolved from a tragic accident involving a young man. Well, two tragedies actually. By society’s standards, he wasn’t very significant. He wasn’t famous; he wasn’t a political figure; he wasn’t a scholar. In fact, he never graduated from college. He didn’t have a lot of material possessions. He worked as a cook and server in the restaurant industry. In other words, this young man was just another ordinary person.