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Five Steps to Safer Health Care

Health Care Providers, Patients, and Families Team Up for Safety!

  1. Choose a doctor that you are comfortable talking with. Speak up if you have questions or concerns. Take a friend or relative to help you understand the answers.
  2. Keep a list of all the medications that you take. Include the amount of each dose and the time you take them. Be sure to tell your physician and pharmacist about all medications. Include over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, tylenol, ibuprofen, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Mention any drug allergies.
  3. Make sure you get the results of tests or procedures. Ask your doctor or nurse when and how you will get the results. If you don't receive them when expected, call your doctor. Ask what the results mean for your care.
  4. Talk with your doctor and health care team about your options if you need hospital care. Before you leave the hospital, be sure you understand any specific instructions for care and your plan for follow-up care.
  5. If you need surgery, make sure that you understand what will happen. Ask your doctor and surgeon?
    • Exactly what will the surgeon be doing?
    • How long will it take?
    • How long will the recovery take?
    • What will you need for follow-up care?

This material is adapted from:

  • "The Fact Sheet: Five Steps to Safer Health Care" developed by Federal agencies in the Quality Interagency Coordination (QuIC) Task Force
  • "Your Role in Safe Medication Use," The Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors
  • National Patient Safety Foundation
  • Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ)