HHC Shares Tips to Help Patients Get the Most From Their Healthcare
Not so long ago, patients felt such awe for the expertise of doctors and nurses that they were reluctant to ask questions. Today, healthcare providers are coaxing their patients to speak up. The reason? Research confirms that when patients are actively involved in their healthcare, there are fewer medical errors and better health outcomes.
"It can be a challenge to get patients to ask questions about their healthcare," said Harold Hellman, Patient Safety Officer at Dr. Susan Smith Mc Kinney Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. "They sometimes feel intimidated or believe that it is impolite to appear to challenge their doctor’s authority. But their input and participation is a key ingredient for good healthcare," added Hellman.
As part of its commitment to become one of the safest healthcare systems in the country by 2010, HHC is reaching out to patients and their families with a straightforward message: "Help Us Help You: Partnering for Safety."
"Patients have always done better when they consistently followed their treatment plan," said Dr. Edward R. Fishkin, Medical Director of Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center. "With today's healthcare technology becoming more complex, it's more important than ever for them to understand their treatment and keep asking questions until they are confident in the effectiveness and safety of their healthcare."
Being willing to speak up is important, but it's equally vital to know what to ask. Here are ten tips that HHC staff are sharing with patients across the city to help them stay healthier – and safer – during their next doctor’s visit:
- Ask questions if you have doubts and concerns. If you cannot or prefer not to speak for yourself, bring a family member or friend to be your advocate. Don’t be ashamed, medical problems may be complicated. Keep asking questions until you’re sure you understand.
- Request an interpreter if you understand the doctor better in another language.
- Keep and bring a list of all the medicines you take.
- Tell them if you have any allergies, including medication, food or other materials, like the latex that is used in hospital gloves.
- Get the results of any test or procedure you received.
- Make sure you understand what will happen if you need surgery. Before surgery, be sure the surgeon has marked the proper parts of your body.
- Make sure your caregiver introduces him/herself, checks your ID band, and asks your name prior to providing care or treatment.
- Check the medications you are being offered, ask what they are for, and make sure they are for you.
- Ask whether your patient care staff have washed their hands before they touch you.
- If you have any unexpected discomfort, call your healthcare provider.