If you visit any medical service provider, you are a patient. Millions of people become patients every day with varying needs, from scrapes and bruises to major surgery, requiring a professional to provide medical care.
Trusting your medical needs to anyone is something you should take very seriously. Learn more about who the professional provider is, his or her experience, and how you learned of the particular doctor you will be visiting. There is nothing wrong with researching a provider. At a minimum you may want to check on the following:
Who is the provider and what is the history of practice? Is there information about excellent service or multiple complaints reported by other patients or their loved ones? Does the provider and/or professional medical staff take time to answer your questions in a way you understand?
What is the provider’s particular expertise to care for your ailment? Do the credentials match up to the type of specialist you need? What do you notice when visiting the office? Are all areas including the exam rooms safe and clean?
How did you learn of the practitioner? Was it a referral from a friend, relative, or another medical professional? Everyone regardless of income has the right to an expectation of patient safety at any medical establishment. The Online Journal of Nursing describes the role of patient safety as essentially “everyone’s business.” According to the Journal, society in general, and a long list of individuals and groups are responsible for ensuring patient care is safely delivered and that no harm occurs to patients. The list includes: patients, individual nurses, administrators, physicians, governments and legislative bodies, accrediting agencies, and more.
While much of the empirical data and systems implementation for patient safety focuses on hospitals, in a blog post hosted by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Jennifer Lenoci-Edwards suggests six recommended ways medical providers can make primary care safer including seeing sick patients in a timely manner, clearly conveying lab test results and what they mean to patients, making sure patients follow through with urgent referrals and tests and addressing social barriers such as language and speaking in terms patients understand.
While these questions are directed towards practitioners, these things you can observe or ask to help you decide if you are in the best place to meet the medical and patient safety needs for you and your family.
Regardless of whether you chose or were referred by another provider, your safety as a patient is important to your health and well being. There should be no compromise, period.
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