Be Aware

6 Mar

This year National Patient Safety Awareness week is being celebrated from March 4 through March 10. I know how you feel! This topic is so exciting I can’t sleep at night either. But seriously, patient safety is important. Since patient safety was first brought to light in the 1990s, studies have shown a staggering number of patients harmed by preventable medical errors. Medical errors can cause serious injury or death and result in billions of dollars in excess health care costs nationwide each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 out of every 10 patients worldwide is impacted by these errors. [i]

With the help of the guidelines set by The National Patient Safety Foundation, (NPSF) I have developed the list below on what you can do to make sure you and your loved ones have a safer healthcare experience.

 Keep track of your history


Write down your medical history including any medical conditions you have: illnesses, immunizations, allergies, hospitalizations, all medications and dietary supplements you’re taking, and any reactions or sensitivities you’ve experienced. My husband and I do this in the notes section of our cell phones. In addition, my husband and a few close family members have my history in case I am not able to convey the information myself to a medical professional.

Pay attention 

If something doesn’t seem right, call it to the attention of your doctor or health care professional because you know what? It might not be right. For example, I was once getting a CT Scan that I was told numerous times would be done without an IV because contrast wasn’t necessary. When I checked into my appointment I was told I needed to get an IV for the contrast. I knew I had been told differently and when I spoke up about it, it turned out they were looking at the wrong order.

Take medications exactly as prescribed

Your doctor is prescribing you medication at a certain dosage for a reason. I have many friends who will tell me that they have stopped taking medication because they feel better. Feeling better and having a bug out of your system are two completely different things. For example, a person who does not finish their antibiotics increases the chances that they may get sick again soon after, even though he or she has begun to feel better.  The antibiotics kill the bacteria that are causing the illness.  However, if you stop taking the medication ahead of time, it is possible that the same bacteria will begin to grow once you stop and cause you to get sick again. Who wants that?[ii]

Last but definitely not least remember It is OK to Ask!

It is ok to ask your doctor about ANYTHING you don’t understand. This can be as simple as where you should report for your next treatment or as complicated as explaining surgery options. It is your right as a patient to fully understand the care and treatment you’ll be receiving. Furthermore, The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) reports research that shows patients who take part in decisions about their health care are more likely to have better outcomes.[iii]

For more information about Patient Safety, check out the National Patient Safety Foundation’s website at

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