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March 10, 2010 > Washington Hospital Recognizes Patient Safety Awareness Week

Washington Hospital Recognizes Patient Safety Awareness Week

Healthy Conversations for Safer Healthcare

Patient Safety Awareness Week, observed this year from March 7-13, 2010, is a national education and awareness-building campaign for improving patient safety both within healthcare organizations and at home. As part of our efforts to improve awareness of patient safety concerns, Washington Hospital will provide patient information tables in the lobby throughout the week. The hospital also will conduct a variety of educational programs and activities for hospital staff.

In keeping with the theme of this year's campaign - "Let's Talk! Healthy Conversations for Safer Healthcare," Washington Hospital will be emphasizing the need for more open communication for a safe healthcare system.

"It's very important for patients and their families to have open communication with their healthcare provider," says Kris LaVoy, R.N., Chief of Compliance and Patient Safety Officer at Washington Hospital. "We want our staff to effectively engage and listen to our patients - this is just one of the keys to ensuring safe care in our hospital."

'Please Ask' Encourages Patient Involvement

Patients and their families are encouraged to take an active role in their care at Washington Hospital. Research shows that patients and families who are actively involved with their doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have better outcomes.

Every patient who is admitted to Washington Hospital is given a brochure, "Please Ask... About Your Care," that encourages them to ask questions about any aspect of their care.

"Our 'Please Ask' campaign continues to bee successful because it educates patients to ask questions of the staff if they do not understand something about their care," LaVoy says. "By asking questions and being informed, patients help improve their own outcomes."

What Questions Should Patients Ask?

Patients should ask about their medications and pay attention to what they are being given. They should ask questions about their condition and understand their care plan. They should ask about the risks and benefits of treatment and know their options. Patients should also know their rights and responsibilities.

Patients have the right to considerate and respectful care and respect for their personal values and beliefs. They have the right to privacy and confidentiality. They have the right to make their own decisions about medical care and receive as much information about any proposed treatment or procedure as they need. They have the right to request or refuse treatment. The list goes on.

Patients also have some responsibilities, including providing complete and accurate information regarding their medical history and being considerate of others in the hospital, including other patients, visitors and hospital employees.

'Ask Me 3' Promotes Communication

In its eighth year, Patient Safety Awareness Week is sponsored by The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) and celebrated by healthcare organizations around the world.

The NPSF recently launched the 'Ask Me 3' patient education program designed to promote communication between health care providers and patients in order to improve health outcomes. The program encourages patients to understand the answers to three questions:

1. What is my main problem?
2. What do I need to do?
3. Why is it important for me to do this?

Patients should be encouraged to ask their providers (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists) these three simple but essential questions in every health care interaction. Likewise, providers should always encourage their patients to understand the answers to these three questions.

Studies show that people who understand health instructions make fewer mistakes when they take their medicine or prepare for a medical procedure. They may also get well sooner or be able to better manage a chronic health condition.

Washington Hospital is dedicated to building and sustaining a culture of safety and accountability. Visit to learn more about our quality efforts and watch our monthly Quality Presentation videos that cover the Hospital's ongoing quality improvement initiatives and education activities. For additional information resources on patient safety issues, visit the National Patient Safety Foundation's web site at

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