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March 4, 2014

Patients encouraged to ask many questions

PLATTSBURGH — The safety and prognosis of those who are sick, injured or hospitalized are dependent not just on medical staff but on the patients themselves.

“Research shows that patients who take part in their health care decisions are more likely to get better faster, and it also prevents health care mistakes,” said registered nurse Donna Dalton, director of Quality & Safety at CVPH Medical Center.

The National Patient Safety Foundation has made suggestions for ensuring safer medical experiences, which the Plattsburgh hospital is distributing to clients and visitors this week in honor of National Patient Safety Awareness Week.

GATHER INFORMATION

One such tip is to become a more informed health care consumer by gathering information about one’s own illnesses or conditions and researching available treatment options.

Patients shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions of their medical team, Dalton noted, and to strive for clarity and understanding.

Writing down questions, as well as the answers and any instructions provided by health care professionals, can be helpful, she said.

The Safety Foundation also recommends keeping a well-documented history of one’s medical conditions, illnesses, immunizations, allergies, hospitalizations and medications and sharing that information with their care team.

‘HAVE AN ADVOCATE’

In addition, when individuals are dealing with a medical issue, it’s important that they involve a friend or family member in their care, according to Dalton.

These people can accompany patients on doctors’ visits and assist with asking questions, gathering information and planning follow-up care.

“It’s nice to have an advocate,” Dalton said.

Friends and family, she noted, can also help patients with things like compiling a list of their medications.

“That’s really important,” the nurse added.

OTHER TIPS

Also important, according to the Safety Foundation, is sticking with the agreed-upon treatment plan, which means following care instructions, taking medications as prescribed and telling a doctor about anything unusual.

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