J.C.’s Speak Up program focuses on patient rights

Filed under: Health Care |

The Joint Commission has launched a national campaign to help Americans understand their rights when receiving medical care. “Know Your Rights” is part of the commission’s Speak Up program, which encourages people to take an active role in their health care.

“Know Your Rights” provides tips to help people become more involved in their treatment, thus improving the safety and quality of care received.

Patients are being advised that they have a right to be informed about the care they will receive; get information about care in their preferred language; know the names of their caregivers; receive treatment for pain; receive an up-to-date list of current medications; expect that they will be heard; and treated with courtesy and respect.

Specifically, commission advises people to:

Think about how family or friends can play a role — Patients should ask how to designate a family member or friend as an advocate who can get information and ask questions. It is also important to understand the decisions an advocate cannot make for you unless they have been legally assigned that responsibility through an advanced directive or health care power of attorney.

Understand rights related to information — The law requires health care providers to keep a patient’s health information private, so a form must be signed if a patient wants his or her information shared with others. Patients also have a right to have care providers fully explain treatment options and risks.

Ask questions before entering a health care facility — Discuss issues such as infection control, life support, spiritual needs, security, how to handle a problem or complaint, any procedures that cannot be done at the facility for religious reasons, and how to obtain copies of medical records and test results.

Ask your doctor questions — It is important to know how often the doctor will visit during a hospital stay, who is responsible for care when the doctor is not available, what happens if life-saving actions are taken and how care will be handled if a test or procedure shows that another procedure is needed immediately.

The basic framework of the Speak Up campaign urges patients to:

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.
  • Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don’t assume anything.
  • Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing and your treatment plan.
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
  • Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care errors.
  • Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center or other type of health care organization that has undergone an on-site evaluation against established quality and safety standards, such as that provided by the commission.
  • Participate in all decisions about your treatment.

Consumers can download the free Speak Up brochure that provides specific guidance to exercise their rights by visiting www.jointcommission.org.

Advocates discuss mother/child health

Health care and patient advocates from North and South America gathered this week for a three-day workshop focused on efforts to improve patient safety in mother and child health care.

Part of the World Health Organization (WHO) World Alliance for Patient Safety, the workshop created a network of patient-advocacy leaders to help expand opportunities for patient involvement in efforts to improve care.

Participants learned about the implementation and evaluation of patient safety solutions that they can use to influence health policies and programs. Workshop segments were devoted to a review of mother and child safety initiatives, analysis of maternal deaths, kernicterus (brain damage from neonatal jaundice) in Argentina and lessons from the experiences of Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus (PICK).

Study shows EMRs don’t improve quality of care

A study has found that using an electronic medical record will not necessarily improve the quality of health care.

The study, conducted by faculty members at the New Jersey School of Medicine, compared patient outcomes for diabetes .

Doctors’ offices using electronic medical records offered poorer quality of care compared with those that didn’t use them. Patient care in the 37 offices that didn’t use electric medical records was more likely to meet guidelines for treatment and intermediate outcomes compared with the 13 offices using a computerized medical record system.

The survey found little evidence about whether commercially developed multifunctional health information technology system improves patient care in primary care settings — where most chronic illness is delivered.

However, EMRs have been shown to improve coordination between health care teams, lower rates of missing clinical information and support evidence-based clinical decision making.

The practices with the best improvement in adhering to clinical guidelines were with software systems created in house — not commercially developed software guides.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.