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Everyone has a role in making health care safe "” physicians, nurses and all members of your health care team. Health care organizations across the country are working to make health care safety a priority. You, as the patient, can also play a vital role in making your care safe by becoming an active, involved and informed member of your health care team. This information provides simple advice on how you can make your care a positive experience.

  1. Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don't understand, ask again. You have a right to know.
  2. Speak up if you don't understand something that your health care professional tells you.
  3. Ask about safety. If you're having surgery, for example, ask the doctor to mark the area that is to be operated upon, so that there's no confusion in the operating room.
  4. Speak up concerning pain relief and pain management. Discuss pain relief options with your health care team.
  5. Speak up if you think you are about to receive the wrong medication or if you think you have been confused with another patient.
  6. Speak up if you have concerns related to fall prevention, use of restraints and the benefits and risks associated with bedrail use.
  7. Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you are getting the right treatments and medications.
  8. Speak up if something does not seem quite right.
  9. Expect health care workers to introduce themselves. Look for health care workers' identification badges.
  10. Expect your health care professional to confirm your identity by checking your wristband and asking your name.
  11. Note that caregivers have washed their hands or used special non-water-based hand-cleansing solutions. Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections. Speak up - do not be afraid to gently remind a healthcare professional to do this.
  12. Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing and your treatment plan.
  13. Read all medical forms and make sure you understand information before you sign any forms.
  14. Speak up if you do not understand a subject. Ask for additional explanation.
  15. Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
  16. Know what medications you take and why you take them.
  17. Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

You are responsible for being considerate of the rights of other patients and hospital personnel. Please avoid loud conversations and other behaviors that may be irritating to others. Please be conscious of how other people would like to be treated. You are responsible for providing the hospital with the following: accurate and complete information about your health status; insurance information; and copies of any Advance Medical Directives you want the hospital to follow. You should also promptly inform the patient representative of any dissatisfaction regarding the hospital's care.

As a patient at this hospital, you can expect information about pain and pain relief measures, a concerned staff committed to your pain prevention and management, and health professionals who respond quickly to reports of pain. Your reports of pain will be believed and you will receive state-of-the-art pain management.

If you are legally incapacitated, these rights and responsibilities may be exercised by your surrogate decision-maker in accordance with applicable law.

The "Speak Up" program is sponsored by the Joint Commission (TJC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). For more information, contact the Joint Commission via the Internet: