Patient Safety Awareness Week is March 2-8. Here patient safety advocacy group PULSE of NY offers tips on four ways we can all help ensure our family and friends remain safe while under medical care.
Patient Safety Awareness Week this year is March 2-8, 2014. Led by the National Patient Safety Foundation, PSAW is an annual education and awareness campaign for health care safety that was launched in 2002.
PULSE of NY wants to remind people who are supporting a friend or family member through hospitalization or a doctor's visit to let the patient know what you can do to help, and then ask the patient what they need from you. Don't tell a patient who is sick or injured, "This is what you should do." Instead, let them know, "This is what I can do for you," and hopefully others will follow your lead in giving the patient a support system.
Some things you can offer to do:
- Join a friend at a doctor's visit and take notes. Make sure your friend knows that what you hear is confidential and you won't be sharing a diagnosis, medical history or list of medications with mutual friends or family. Many people would rather go alone to the doctor than chance having a close friend learn personal information.
- Offer to be a patient's Designated Medication Manager (DMM). Make sure all medications are listed, updated and reviewed by a pharmacist or doctor. Look for duplicate medications, and expired or unused medications. Be sure your friend or family member knows how to take each medication, and if they don't, help them to find out, and to understand any side effects.
- Organize medical records, doctors' names, treatments, and history, including financial info. The bills pile up fast and can overwhelm a patient and their family members quickly. Using a notebook and folder, make sure your friend isn't in over his head.
- Visiting a hospitalized patient? Offer to visit while a family member isn't there. Instead of just "dropping in" at the hospital, make an appointment to sit while the patient sleeps. Bring a good book and let family know that you don't need to be entertained. You will sit with the patient in case she needs water or to use the bathroom, is uncomfortable, or needs pain medication. A patient recovering from surgery should be resting and may do better with you there, but not entertaining you. You will be present to take notes if the doctor comes in, to record the medication the patient gets, and to ensure that all staff who touch the patient wash their hands first. And keep in mind: if you don't care enough to make sure staff wash their hands, you shouldn't be visiting the patient.
Always feel free to call PULSE of NY for more ideas or if you think you need support. (516) 579-4711