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Taking an Active Role in Your Own Care

At St. Mary's General Hospital patient safety is our first priority. During your stay as a patient you will meet many healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, case managers and dietitians. We require that all physicians and employees of the Hospital wear their ID badges to better help you recognize who is taking care of you.

Since you are the center of the Healthcare Team, we ask that you take an active role in your care. There are specific things you can do to help us serve you better.

Speak up. Tell your doctors and nurses as much as you can about your health history. Don't be afraid to tell them something that you might think is unimportant. Ask questions about what is planned and anything that you don't understand. Tell your caregiver if you don't feel well after a test or a new medication.

Pay attention to the care that you receive. Make sure that your caregiver checks your patient wristband and says your name before taking you for a test or performing a procedure on you. Make sure that you know what is being done and by whom. Don't assume anything.

Educate yourself. Ask questions. Learn about the medical tests that you get and the treatment that your caregiver has planned. Request written information if possible. Research your illness from reliable medical sources.

Ask questions. If you don't understand what is being discussed - ask questions. If you still don't understand, ask again. If you are given a new medication, ask what it's for and how it works, this includes IV bags. Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate in case you can't speak up for yourself.

Know what medications you take and why you take them. Keep a complete list of your medicines written down, including the dose and how often you take them. Tell your caregiver about any over-the-counter, herbal or vitamin preparations. Medication errors are the most common healthcare mistakes and may occur with the most common medications. Know what medications you should take at home before you leave the hospital.

Use a physician, clinic or hospital that you have checked out. Make sure that the healthcare organization has been accredited. This means that they are being held to professional standards of care.

Participate in your care. You are the center of the healthcare team and your participation is important in all decisions regarding your care. Plan your treatment with your doctor and your family. Establish a plan for who will speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself.