There are many great examples of patient safety strategies across the country and we’re so happy to celebrate them during Canadian Patient Safety Week 2015. In order to continue those strategies we want to help equip patients with the right tools to take with them to healthcare facilities. Three simple words can summarize what you need: Ask. Listen. Talk.
Equip yourself with the knowledge that you need in order to ask your physician all the necessary questions. Go ahead and write them down to prepare for your appointment. Don’t feel comfortable going and asking alone? That’s fine, ask a family member or friend to join you. Some sample questions to be willing to ask:
- Why do I need this test?
- What will this test/procedure involve?
- What more can I do to improve my condition?
- How exactly will these medications help me?
- Are there any possible side effects?
- How often should I be taking this medication?
- What do I need to do at home?
Also, remember to perform hand hygiene while you’re at a healthcare facility and don’t be shy to ask your physician to wash their hands too. It’s your health at risk, so ask.
Now that you’ve asked, listen. Listen well. If you missed anything, ask again and make sure you thoroughly understand. Ask the friend or family member that you brought with you to pay attention, and write down the important information that you can use as a reference later.
It’s time to talk. An open conversation is best; discuss any symptoms you’ve experienced and what concerns you. Explain your health history and existing health conditions, talk about medications and why they are needed. If something feels off to you, don’t just think it, say it. Speaking up only helps you; not speaking up involves more risk.
In order to continue to celebrate patient safety across Canada, we need to ensure that not only are healthcare workers equipped with the proper knowledge and equipment to treat people but also that patients are encouraged to speak up and understand their health so they can help themselves.