JCAHO urges patients to watch for errors

You are the center of the health care team’

Patients are now joining the patient safety movement. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, has launched operation "Speak Up," which encourages patients to take a role in preventing medical errors by becoming involved and informed participants in their treatment. The Joint Commission has launched the campaign based on research, which shows that patients who take part in decisions about their health care are more likely to have better outcomes. The effort also involves the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "It is now time for patients themselves to become part of this effort," says Dennis S. O’Leary, MD, president of the Joint Commission.

To help prevent health care errors, patients are urged to:

Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body, and you have a right to know.

Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don’t assume anything.

Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.

Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.

Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care errors.

Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.