Every year the NPSF reaffirms the Universal Patient Compact, a set of principles which emphasize the importance of partnership between patients and providers. Patients are encouraged to talk with their doctors and nurses about how to improve their team efforts. Learning how to be an active partner in your medical care and insisting upon being treated respectully as a valued member of your health care team is vital to safe health care. Patient Safety Awareness Week emphasizes how to recognize and report medical errors as well as how to identify Best Safety Practices and compliance by your treatment team. Vigilant advocacy for improved medical quality is key to dramatic improvement in health care.
Actively sharing your stories of preventable medical errors and how to effectively intervene leads to your empowerment as a patient and health care consumer. “Ask Me 3,” developed by NPSF, illustrates effective communication that is fundamental to health care quality. Compare the video to how the aviation checklists are being adapted to avoid medical errors.
The field of medicine has a unique culture which historically has not facilitated open, respectful communication. Observe how your doctor and nurse communicate with each other. Remember that nurses are at least as competent in medical treatment and should be treated as equals. Doctors and nurses have different skill sets but as a team should function collaboratively. The same is true for you as a patient or patient advocate.
Special activities for patients, health care providers, and advocates include a “twitter chat” about how patients and providers can engage with each other. The chat will be Wednesday, March 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET, 12:00 p.m. CT, and 11:00 a.m. PT. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #PSAW2012. In addition to facilitating communication between like-minded individuals, the NPSF staff will answer your questions, offer suggestions and provide additional resources.
Patient advocates are at the forefront of the campaign for patient safety. I hope you will take advantage of the special resources that are available this week, courtesy of the National Patient Safety Foundation. I hope to speak with you on Wednesday!