Taking Part in Your Medical Care

When it comes to medical questions, many parents defer to the experts both for themselves and their children. But parents should be as proactive about making sure their kids are getting the right medical care as they are about education and childcare issues.

As part of the national "Speak Up" campaign, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is encouraging patients to become active, involved and informed participants on their family’s health-care team – to speak up for their rights as patients.

"Everyone has a role to play in preventing health-care errors," says JCAHO President Dennis S. O’Leary, M.D. "Physicians, health-care executives, nurses and other health-care workers are already working hard to address this on-going problem. It’s now time for patients to become part of this effort."

The JCAHO "Speak Up" brochure offers parents specific advice on how they can become more active in their family’s health care. Suggestions include:

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you still don’t understand, ask again. When your health or the health of your children is concerned, you have a right to have information explained to you in a way you understand.

  • Pay attention to the care you or your children are receiving. Ask if you’re getting the right treatments and medications from the right health-care professionals.

  • Educate yourself about the diagnosis, medical tests and treatment plan.

  • Ask someone you trust to be your advocate. Take them with you to appointments so that they can ask questions that you may not think of while you’re under stress.

  • Know the names of the medications and what they’re for. Errors related to medication are the most common health-care errors.

  • Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center or health-care organization that has been through a rigorous on-site evaluation by an organization such as the JCAHO.

  • Participate in all treatment decisions. You should always make involved, informed decisions in collaboration with the doctors.

    To view the complete brochure, visit or call the JCAHO Customer Service Center at 1-630-792-5800.

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