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Speak Up! It May Help Fight Medical Errors

Excerpt by Jesse J. Logan, Reuters Health

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - As part of a nationwide campaign to curb medical errors, a leading healthcare safety group is urging patients to speak up about their medical questions.

During Patient Safety Awareness Week March 9-15, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations will launch its second annual "Speak Up" program.

The program's goal is to improve healthcare quality and empower people to participate in decisions about their medical care. Patients will receive brochures and medical professionals in hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices and pharmacies will wear buttons inviting people to ask questions.

"Sometimes people may feel intimidated to ask questions," Cathy Barry-Ipema, spokesperson for the Joint Commission, told Reuters Health. "So we want to say that it is fine. It is OK. Healthcare organizations want you to ask questions. It is important."

Nearly 100,000 people die each year as a result of medical mistakes, according to recent statistics. Through a medical error database, the Joint Commission tracks mistakes from nearly 17,000 healthcare organizations that report the information voluntarily. Poor communication and patient misidentification could lead to medication and surgical errors, which were among the "major" problems seen, Barry-Ipema said.

She noted that research has shown the more involved patients are the more likely they are to have good outcomes.

"Patients can play a vital role in making their healthcare safe, by becoming active, involved and informed," she said. "They need to see themselves as the center of the healthcare team. They need to ask questions." And if they can't, Barry-Ipema said, patients need to have loved ones or other advocates speak on their behalf.


Reference Source 89

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