Patient Safety

Partners in safety: taking an active role in your healthcare

Our primary goal is to provide you with the highest quality healthcare to achieve your best possible health. This goal can best be met by working together. Everyone has a role in making healthcare as safe as possible—doctors, nurses, technicians, and yes, you, the patient! By becoming an active, involved, and well-informed member of your healthcare team, you can play a vital role in making your healthcare safe.

Accidents and medical errors happen when part of your care does not work out as planned or when an incorrect plan of care was followed. By asking and answering questions about your health status, diagnosis, and treatment plan, you can assist the healthcare team. Good clear communication is vital to keep every patient safe.

This website offers suggestions for working with your healthcare team to provide the highest quality care possible.

Team up for safety

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Talk with your doctor and healthcare 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.
  • If you need surgery, make sure that you understand what will happen. Ask your doctor and surgeon these questions:
    • 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 Healthcare" 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)

Additional safety information