You probably don't hesitate to speak up at the auto repair shop or hair salon. Yet when you have concerns as a patient, and it's your health rather than an air filter or your hair style that's at stake, do you find yourself clamming up?
Don't worry, you're not alone. Many people hesitate to raise concerns or ask questions of their health care professionals. They may feel that their input isn't important, or that they'll be perceived as a bother. Maybe they were intimidated by a past healthcare experience. But not speaking up leads to minimal patient involvement, and that isn't good for anyone involved.
"If you act as a partner in your care with your healthcare team, you can make the quality and safety of that care better," according to Ellen Stimac, director of performance improvement at Edward Hospital. This might mean avoiding a fall by asking staff to help get out of your hospital bed. Or asking if another medication could replace one that's making you so queasy you sometimes skip it.
"At Edward, we've developed the 'speak up' campaign to encourage patients and family members to bring to attention anything related to their care that's unclear or of concern," says Stimac. (Learn more about Speak Up.)
One way Edward makes it easier for hospitalized patients to speak up is through its volunteer patient advocates. The friendly visitor who asks you during your stay, "Are we taking very good care of you?" is one of those advocates.
"About 95 percent of the time patients or their family members will say the care has been great," says Kevin Clifford, one of those patient advocates and chair of the Edward Patient/Family Advisory Committee. "But sometimes there'll be a concern. I assure them there'll be no negative repercussions for sharing it. By letting us know there's something we could do better, they help not only themselves, but also the next patient."
Here are six ways you can participate in your care as an Edward patient:
1. Your doctors and nurse will be key sources of information. If you need something, don't hesitate to press the call button and a nurse or patient care technician will respond.
2. Use the blank pages in your patient handbook to jot down questions for your doctor as they occur to you.
3. You also can talk to someone in nursing management. Ask for your unit's charge nurse.
4. Patient advocates can help put you in touch with the right people. Clifford recently helped a patient's mother talk with an accounting representative so she could resolve a billing issue.
5. If a situation seems dangerous to you, or if you perceive a change in your condition, tell your nurse right away. A patient or family member also may call our Patient/Family Rapid Response number (extension 75555) if concerned about some aspect of care, or if they feel immediate attention is needed for something potentially harmful. The operator will send a healthcare professional to help.
6. If you receive a survey after leaving the hospital, send in your feedback.
See how Edward performs on quality, patient satisfaction
Choice. We take that word very seriously at Edward because we know you have many options for your care. And it's a big reason why we're making our performance data available to you at edward.org/howweperform. This new section of our web site is where you'll learn more about how to make informed health care choices based on:
- how patients rank Edward (hint: we're the most preferred hospital in the region)
- our quality scorecards including survival rates, turnaround times and how we rate versus best practices
- how we keep you safe including infection prevention
- Edward's patient volumes and our awards and recognitions
- We've also included links to publicly available quality reports from outside sources.