SPEAK UP about your Healthcare

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 a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by the Joint Commission.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

The Joint Commission’s New Speak Up™ Program Urges Patients to ‘Know Your Rights’

(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. – June 8, 2007) 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 Joint Commission’s award-winning Speak Up™ program that urges people to take an active role in their own health care.

Patients who ask questions and are aware of their rights have a greater chance of getting the care that they need when they need it. “Know Your Rights” provides tips to help people become more involved in their treatment, thus improving the safety and quality of care received. The campaign advises patients 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; and expect that they will be heard; and treated with courtesy and respect.

“Knowing your rights regarding treatment and care is the foundation for all interactions with your caregivers at health care facilities. Candid conversations between patients and their caregivers will help facilitate the delivery of safe, high quality care and ultimately, enhance recovery,” says Paul Schyve, M.D., senior vice president, The Joint Commission.

Specifically, The Joint 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 advance directive or 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 his or her advocate or 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 right away
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the public through the provision of health care accreditation and related services that support performance improvement in health care organizations. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits nearly 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including more than 8,000 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,300 other health care organizations that provide long term care, assisted living, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission also accredits health plans, integrated delivery networks, and other managed care entities. In addition, the Joint Commission provides certification of disease-specific care programs, primary stroke centers, and health care staffing services. An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about the Joint Commission at http://www.jointcommission.org/.