Plan Now for National Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 7-13, 2004

Patient Safety Awareness Week (PSAW) is a national education and awareness-building campaign for improving patient safety at the local level. Hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country are encouraged to plan events to promote patient safety within their own organizations. Educational activities are centered on educating patients on how to become involved in their own healthcare, as well as working with hospitals to build partnerships with their patient community.

Patient Safety Awareness Week was initially launched in March 2002 by Ilene Corina, president of PULSE of New York and co-chair of the National Patient Safety Foundation's (NPSF) Patient and Family Advisory Council, and endorsed by the NPSF and the local Veterans Administration Hospital. This year, in collaboration with these organizations, the National Patient Safety Foundation is leading a national effort by providing a clearinghouse of potential and on-going activities as well as resources for all patients and hospitals.

Below is a beginning list of ideas for local activities (implemented by dozens of hospitals and healthcare organizations in the first Patient Safety Awareness Week in March 2002).

Activities for Hospitals, Healthcare Organizations and Staff:

Media and Marketing:

-- Tape a radio show on your local station about patient safety.

-- Sponsor a resolution to declare the second week of March Patient Safety Awareness Week.

-- Include a reminder about Patient Safety Awareness Week and safety tips with medical bills, paychecks.

-- Distribute pins, pens and other give-away items to "celebrate" your commitment to patient safety.

-- Distribute press releases announcing your activities.

-- Create public service announcements about communication, dialogue and partnering between patients and healthcare providers. (To help get the message out, enlist major local radio and TV stations, along with university and local community print media to provide in-kind support).

-- Write editorials, first-person stories, and op-ed pieces for local papers and newsletters.

Communicate and partner with patients and families

-- Offer a suggestion box for patients and families.

-- Hold an open house, brown bag lunch, or round table discussion (with refreshments) for patients and families with a patient safety topic of discussion.

-- Hold a round table discussion with staff and patients and families to discuss safety concerns.

-- Set up special phone lines for one week for consumers and staff to report safety concerns.

-- Conduct surveys for the public to express their concerns about healthcare safety.

-- Provide a journal or message board for patients to write down their stories and/or concerns while they are waiting for appointments.

Increase patient safety in your hospital or organization:

-- Announce award programs and incentives.

-- Hold a poster contest about patient safety.

-- Provide a drop box for suggestions from staff to improve patient safety.

-- Conduct a survey of staff about their safety concerns.

-- Hold an information session about patient safety.

-- Hold a round table discussion with staff to discuss safety concerns.

-- Include patient safety in medical professional school curricula.

-- Bring in a patient/family speaker to speak to staff about an experience with a medical error.

-- Establish a Patient and Family Advisory Council in your hospital.

Educate patients and families:

-- Distribute literature in the lobby.

-- Distribute medication safety pamphlets.

-- Host a panel presentation and discussion.

-- Invite speakers to come and speak about healthcare issues in hospital lobbies.

-- Show educational films.

-- Have a pharmacist available to answer questions in the lobby.

-- Invite patients to bring their medications for review by a pharmacist.

-- Empower patients by providing information on what they can do if they experience an error.

Provide tools to help patients ensure their own care:

-- Distribute pillboxes with the days of the week, imprinted with a safety message and the name of the organizations.

-- Distribute business cards or tent cards that read "Time to Clean out Your Medicine Cabinet of Expired Medications" March 7-13, 2004.

-- Distribute "My Personal Medical Diary" for patients to keep all of their records together including medication, tests and insurance. Encourage patients to know this information, available through www.PatientSafetyStore.com.

-- Distribute wallet cards for patients to write down and carry with them all medications and phone numbers for providers and pharmacies.

Reach out to the community:

-- Introduce departments and services within your hospital to the patient and family population (such as ethics committees, social work, ombudsman programs, etc.).

-- Use your volunteers, civic groups and community groups to help pass out literature, write editorials and post signs and posters throughout the community.

-- Encourage educational and motivational speakers to go into businesses or to civic meetings (senior groups, PTA's, religious institutions) and speak about healthcare safety, or line them up for your own events!

-- Hold an open house for civic groups and local residents to meet the staff, visit emergency rooms and see your facility before they need it.

-- Include patient safety curriculum in high-schools emphasizing "how to be an aware patient."

Activites for Patients and Families:

--Learn how to become more involved in care

-- Learn how you can become an active member of your healthcare team.

-- Learn how you can report an error within your own healthcare system.

Actions to take to help protect yourself:

-- Clean out your medicine cabinets of old or expired medications.

-- Bring your medications to your doctor or pharmacist for review.

-- Get copies of all of your healthcare records and keep them in a safe place.

-- Write down and carry with you all of your prescription and over the counter medications (including doses), as well as any allergies.

-- Write down and carry with you the names and numbers of all of your healthcare providers and pharmacies.

-- Identify an advocate (either family member or friend) who can accompany you and ask questions on your behalf.

-- Talk with your family or other close individuals about what your preferences are for your healthcare, in case you are unable to speak for yourself.

Communicate and partner with your providers:

-- Ask your hospital or healthcare professional about patient safety, and how communication and partnership between you and your providers can be improved.

-- Ask your hospital or healthcare organization what they are doing for Patient Safety Awareness Week, and attend events to learn more about patient safety.

-- Communicate with your provider about what your healthcare safety concerns are, and how you believe they may be able to help.

-- Let your healthcare provider know who they should talk with in the case that you are unable to speak for yourself.

Source: National Patient Safety Foundation

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