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3 Questions You Must Ask

Health care information can be confusing. Asking questions helps you understand how to stay well or get better.  You should ask 3 questions every time you see a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

These 3 questions are:
  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?

If you still don't understand, ask again. For more information about "Ask Me 3," go to the National Patient Safety Foundation web site.

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The Speak Up Initiative

In March 2002, The Joint Commission, together with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), launched a national campaign to urge patients to take a role in preventing health care errors by becoming active, involved and informed participants on the health care team. The program features brochures, posters and buttons on a variety of patient safety topics. Speak UpTM encourages the public 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 a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by Joint Commission.
  • Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

More information is available at www.jointcommission.org/speakup.aspx

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Smoking and Your Health

Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases including cancer, heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of getting these diseases. There are many resources in Wisconsin that can help you to quit smoking. In some cases, resources to help you quit smoking may be available free of charge or paid for by your insurance.

For more information go to the Wisconsin Quit Smoking Line www.ctri.wisc.edu/Home/Quit.Line.Home.html

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Advance Directives

One of the most powerful actions consumers can take is to take control of their health care decisions before they no longer have the ability to do so. Completing an Advance Directive assures that one's wishes will be followed. 

Every adult age 18 or older should:

  • Complete a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or Living Will
  • Discuss health care wishes with family and health care providers.
  • Select another person to make health care decisions on his or her behalf if unable

An advance directive is a gift to your family and friends as it makes hard times easier if they know your wishes.

To obtain advance directives forms, click here.

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The Color of Safety

Wisconsin hospitals advance safety initiatives in many ways. The newest initiative is a statewide commitment to standardize the colors used to identify patients and medical alerts.

Many Wisconsin hospitals use color-coded alerts as a way of quickly identifying important information about patients. Wristbands, stickers and placards are commonly used to identify allergy warnings, fall risks, or do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders. However, until now, there has not been a standard that offers direction to hospitals as to what color identifies which alert. Many health professionals work in multiple facilities so they must memorize multiple, sometimes conflicting, color-coded alert systems, and patients are often transferred from one facility to another creating a potential for confusion.

Fourteen states have chosen to standardize color codes, eight others are considering it. While there is not an official national standard, a majority of states that have standardized have chosen the same colors, including states bordering Wisconsin. Wisconsin is in the process of implementing these same color standards to ensure that patients and heath care employees will have consistent standards when they work across state line. The colors are:

  • White or Clear for Patient Identification
  • Purple for DNR
  • Red for Allergy
  • Yellow for Fall Risk

Facilities that are not currently using color-coded alerts are not encouraged to start.

While this is a voluntary program, the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s goal is for 100 percent of hospitals to make the transition to the standard colors by March 1, 2009.

To obtain Patient Safety Brochure,  click here.

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