Locally and nationally, there are many projects going forward to monitor and improve both safety and quality among health care providers, including hospitals. Southeastern Regional Medical Center participates in programs launched by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. We share our clinical data with these groups in an effort help patients become better informed and more equipped to participate in their own care.
Recently, SRMC joined the 100,000 Lives Campaign, a project initiated by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to implement changes in care that have been proven to prevent avoidable deaths. More than 100 hospitals in the state and thousands across the country are expected to participate.
At SRMC and all over the nation, hospital professionals are acquiring new tools and techniques to prevent hospital-acquired infections, surgical mix-ups and medication errors, for example. However, one of the most important people in keeping quality high is you, the patient. Get involved in your health care because your participation can make a real difference. People who are more involved in their care tend to get better results, a national research agency for health care quality reported.
What can you do to get the best - and safest - health care possible? Here are five commonsense steps toward becoming a better advocate for your health.
- Speak up. Ask your doctor any questions you have about symptoms, medicines, tests or treatments. Your physician should provide clear, honest answers.
- Monitor your medications. Prescribed drugs can be dangerous when combined with certain other drugs, foods, herbal remedies or over-the-counter medicines. To guard against such problems, show your doctor a list of all the medicines, vitamins and herbal products you use. And when you pick up a new medicine at the pharmacy, check the label and ask the pharmacist to confirm it's the correct drug.
- Get results. If your doctor orders medical tests, be sure you learn the findings and what they mean to your health. Call if you don't hear back from your doctor or the lab when expected. Don't assume results are fine if you don't hear anything.
- Be sure. If your physician recommends a particular medicine or surgical procedure, make sure you know why.
- Ask if you have other options. What are the benefits or drawbacks of the treatment? Are there risks? If you still aren't sure how to proceed, it may be appropriate to request a second opinion from another doctor. If you go through with a treatment, make sure everyone taking care of you knows important facts about your health, such as any allergies or sensitivities you have to medicines.
- Follow up. Care doesn't end once you leave a doctor's office or the hospital. Call your doctor if: Symptoms get worse; Medicines cause side effects; or you develop complications while recovering from a procedure.
If you are looking for a physician, call 671-5499 for the 2005 SRMC Physician Directory. Remember that the latest physician updates are available online at www.srmc.org. On the home page, click on "Meet our Medical Staff" and search for physicians by name, specialty or practice.