Patient safety advocates are asking the general public to take a more active role in their medical care in hopes of preventing medical errors.
"Working together with patients, we must strive to create a system based on accountability, trust, system improvement and continuous learning. It must be a culture of safety rather than a culture of blame," says Robert Krawitz, executive director of the National Patient Safety Foundation, which will convene its fifth annual patient safety congress Wednesday in Washington.
The foundation is a 7-year-old project of the AMA, insurer CNA HealthPro and medical products manufacturer 3M Co., with funding from drugmaker Schering-Plough Corp.
In hopes of educating the public, the foundation this week has issued a list of five steps patients should follow when seeking healthcare or being hospitalized. The group tells patients to:
- "Ask questions about every part of your care until you are comfortable in making the best and most informed decisions."
- "Work with your doctors and nurses by providing complete information."
- "Ask a family member or friend to come with you and act as your advocate."
- "Answer all questions about your health as truthfully and completely as possible."
- "Be sure you understand your discharge instructions before you leave the hospital or clinic."