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NEWS | March 6, 2007

Patient safety: it’s everyone’s responsibility

By Col. Donnalee Sykes 437th Medical Group commander

The 437th Medical Group has been celebrating National Patient Safety Awareness Week from Monday through Saturday. This year's theme is "Patient Safety - A Road Taken Together" and its goal is to educate patients on why and how they can be more involved in their health care. 

Patient safety is one of the nation's most pressing healthcare challenges and a top priority for the 437 MDG. Improving patient safety requires continuous learning and constant com¬munication among caregivers and patients. Everyone has a role in patient safety and will benefit from its successes. Here are some suggestions developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help you get safer health care: 

· Become a more informed consumer ... Speak up! 
   -- Seek information about illnesses or conditions that affect you. 
   -- Research options and possible treatment plans. 
   -- Ask questions of your provider, nurse or pharmacist. 

· Write down your medical history including any medical conditions you have, medication reactions, allergies, previous surgeries and all medications and dietary supplements you're taking including store-bought medicines. Our clinic has wallet-size medication cards to help you keep track of the medicines you're taking. 

· Work with your health care professionals as a team ... again, Speak up! 
   -- Share your health history with your healthcare team as well as with anyone else who'll be treating you. 
   -- Make sure you understand the care and treatment you'll be receiving. 
   -- Pay attention. If something doesn't seem right, let your healthcare team know. Don't be afraid to ask questions. 
   -- Discuss any concerns about your safety with your healthcare team. 

· Involve a family member or friend in your care 
   -- If you can't observe or participate fully in your care, ask a family member or friend to help. 

· Follow the treatment plan agreed upon by you and your health care provider 
   -- Be sure you receive all instructions verbally and in writing; make sure you can read and understand them. 
   -- Take medications exactly as prescribed. 
   -- Use home medical equipment and supplies only as instructed. 
   -- Report anything unusual to your provider. 

The medical group has a great track record for delivering safe health care. However, we are always striving to do better. With your help we can continue to deliver the safest, most effective care possible. 

Call the patient safety program manager, Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Coleman-Lee, at 963-6892 or the chief of quality services, Kevin O'Shea at 963-6913, if you have any questions.