Speak Up for Safe Care

Everyone has a role in making health care safe. As a patient, you can make your care safer by being an active, involved and informed member of your health care team. By working together, your care will be safer.

To prevent health care errors, you are encouraged to SPEAK UP™

Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you don’t understand, ask again. You have a right to know.
  • If English is not your first language, ask for someone who speaks your language. EMMC provides interpreter services free of charge.
  • If you do not understand your provider’s accent, ask them to repeat themselves.  Also ask your nurse to stay with you when your provider is seeing you.  
Pay attention to the care you get. Make sure you are getting the right treatment and the right medication by the right health care professional. 
  • Tell your doctor or nurse if something does not seem quite right
  • Expect health care workers to introduce themselves when they enter your room. 
  • Notice whether your caregivers have washed their hands. If they haven’t, ask them to.  National studies show that 80,000 people die each year because of infections they get while in the hospital. At EMMC, we are committed to washing our hands 100% of the time to keep you safe from infection.
  • Know the time of day you usually take your medication.
  • Make sure your doctor or nurse confirms your identity prior to the administration of any medication or treatment. He/she should check your name band and ask you your name. 
Educate yourself about your illness. Learn about the medical tests you get and your treatment plan.
  • Ask your doctor about the training and experience that qualifies him/her to care for you.
  • Write down information about your illness so that you can find out more about it later.
Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
  • Your advocate can ask questions, you may think of
  • Ask this person to stay with you when you are hospitalized
  • Your advocate can help remember answers to questions you have asked, and may speak up for you if you cannot
Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common heath care mistake.
  • Ask what the medication is and why you are taking it. 
  • Ask for written information about the medication, including its brand and generic names.
  • If you do not recognize a medication, ask your nurse what it is and if it is for you.
  • Make sure you tell your doctors and nurses about any allergies that you have or reactions you have had to medications in the past.
Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center or other type of health care organizations that has been carefully checked out. For example, The Joint Commission visits hospitals to see if they are meeting The Joint Commission’s quality standards. 
  • Ask about the health care organizations experience in treating your type of illness
  • Before you leave the hospital make sure you understand all of the instructions and your plan for follow-up care. 
Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of your health care team.
  • You and your doctor should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of your care.
  • Know who will be taking care of you, how long the treatment lasts and how you should feel.
  • Keep a copy of your current medication list with you.  Share it with your health care providers any time you receive care. 
Original Speak Up content developed by The Joint Commission.