Six Ways to Improve Patient Safety as a Patient-Provider Team

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In honor of Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 13-19, we are sharing facts and resources to help providers and patients improve health care safety and make the transition to consumer-centered care models. Remember to keep patients at the center of their care each step of the way!

For Providers

1. Eliminate Health Care-Associated Infections (HAI)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HAI Progress Report reveals that when providers are more aware of infection problems and take preventative action, rates of certain HAIs can decrease by more than 70 percent. To learn more about the steps toward safer care, view the Federal Steering Committee for the Prevention of HAIs’ National Action Plan to Prevent Health-Care Associations Infections: Road to Elimination.

2. Reduce Falls in Nursing Homes

Did you know that the average nursing home resident falls 2.6 times each year? By putting exercise programs in place, long-term care facilities can improve residents’ balance, strength and walking ability. For more ways to prevent falls and serious injuries, check out the Advancing Excellence in Long Term Care Collaborative’s mobility webinar

3. Be Transparent with Patients

Open, honest and comprehensible communication between patients and providers can help pave the way toward improved outcomes, fewer errors, more satisfied patients and reduced costs. The National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute shares how transparency is practiced in various health care domains.

For Patients

1. Know Your Health History

Do not assume all providers and caregivers have an up-to-date record of your medicine, allergies and previous procedures. Be a more active participant in your care by having a family member or friend go to important visits with you, so they have all the facts too – even if you don’t need help at the time, you may later. Learn more about what personal health records include and how to create one from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

2. Ask Questions

Patients play an important role in ensuring that they understand the information they receive from providers. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about terms being used, treatment plans, ordered tests and the signs of infection. Help make sure your concerns are addressed with tools and resources available, for example the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s care question tip sheets.

3. Challenge Providers to Keep Hands Clean

Be sure every provider that cares for you washes their hands each time they enter the room. As a patient, you are empowered to protect yourself. Good hand hygiene can save lives – for more information, listen to this podcast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.