5 Steps to Safer Healthcare 
 
Monday, 26 February 2007 
 
 
Hilton Head Island, SC – February 12, 2007 - In support of National Patient Safety Awareness Week, from March 4-10, 2007, Hilton Head Regional Medical Center is supporting the National Patient Safety Foundation’s (NPSF) efforts to highlight effective communication as the patient safety tool of choice. The theme, “Patient Safety: A Road Taken Together,” emphasizes the partnership between providers, patients and their community in improving patient safety and focuses on the impact of teamwork on all levels. The theme encourages providers to listen to their patients, speak in simple teams and empower and develop an equal growing partnership. For patients, medical information is often difficult to understand. Patients who ask questions until they understand what they need to do can become partners with their doctor to manage their health. This understanding will build relationships and improve patient safety.

Mary Harrington, RN and Certified Patient Safety Officer at Hilton Head Regional Medical Center encourages the patient to learn more about what they can do to receive safer health care. Harrington recommends knowing these “5 Steps to Safer Health Care” that was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association.

1. Ask questions if you have doubts or concerns. Ask questions and make sure you understand the answers. Choose a doctor you feel comfortable talking to. Take a relative or friend with you to help you ask questions and understand the answers.

2. Keep and bring a list of ALL the medicines you take. Give your doctor and pharmacist a list of all the medicines that you take, including non-prescription medicines. Tell them about any drug allergies you have. Ask about side effects and what to avoid while taking the medicine. Read the label when you get your medicine, including all warnings. Make sure your medicine is what the doctor ordered and know how to use it. Ask the pharmacist about your medicine if it looks different than you expected.

Hilton Head Regional Medical Center provides blank medication cards to its patients upon discharge. The card folds nicely to fit into a wallet or money clip. If you would like a medication record card, call (843) 689-8285.

3. Get the results of any test or procedure. Ask when and how you will get the results of tests or procedures. Don't assume the results are fine if you do not get them when expected, be it in person, by phone, or by mail. Call your doctor and ask for your results. Ask what the results mean for your care.

4. Talk to your doctor about which hospital is best for your health needs. Ask your doctor about which hospital has the best care and results for your condition if you have more than one hospital to choose from. Be sure you understand the instructions you get about follow-up care when you leave the hospital.

5. Make sure you understand what will happen if you need surgery. Make sure you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done during the operation. Ask your doctor, "Who will manage my care when I am in the hospital?" Ask your surgeon:
Exactly what will you be doing?
About how long will it take?
What will happen after the surgery?
How can I expect to feel during recovery?

Tell the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses about any allergies, bad reaction to anesthesia, and any medications you are taking.

Patient Safety Awareness week is a call to action to raise awareness of the issue and encourage patient safety by highlighting the importance of asking questions, listening and learning in making healthcare decisions. For more information about the patient safety movement, visit www.npsf.org.