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Patient Safety

Health Net is committed to patient safety initiatives to prevent and reduce medical errors. You can also help to improve safety and health care by being prepared and asking questions of your physicians and other health care providers. This page tells you how.

The first step in getting good health care is talking to your doctor about your health history and the medicine or vitamins you are taking so he or she can advise you about getting the care you need, when you need it.

Remember to talk with your doctor about these things at your next visit.

  • The list of medications you are taking.
    List any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin or vitamins. Bring all of your medicines, and anything else you are taking, with you to your doctor once a year. Your doctor will talk with you about anything you may be taking that may not be good for you, or items that may interact. This also helps keep your medical records up to date.
  • Any allergies or reactions to medications you may have.
  • Any new prescriptions your doctor prescribes.
    Not all doctors' handwriting is easy to read, so make sure you know the name of the medication your doctor is prescribing so your pharmacist gives you the right medicine and the right dose. Things you should discuss with your doctor about every prescription include:
    • What is the medicine for?
    • How do you take it and for how long?
    • What are the possible side effects? What should you do if you have side effects?
    • Is this medicine safe to take with the other drugs or dietary supplements you are taking?
    • What food, drink or activities should be stopped while on the medicine?

  • Make sure to ask if the medicine is the one your doctor prescribed. Make sure to read the label yourself, then ask the pharmacist or assistant.
  • Be sure to understand the directions on the medicine label. These can be difficult to understand. For example, if it reads "four doses daily," be sure to ask if this would be taken every six hours around the clock or just during waking hours.
  • If a liquid medicine, ask the pharmacist the best way to measure it. Many people use household teaspoons, which often don't hold a full teaspoon. Special syringes or other devices can help be sure you get the right amount.
  • Ask for written instructions and a list of possible side effects. Many pharmacies now provide written instructions and side effect lists when you get the medicine. If they don't give this to you, be sure and ask for it.

With access to the providers and hospitals in Health Net's network, you and your family can get the care you need to stay healthy. By engaging with your doctor, you can better understand what you need to do to stay healthy.

Here are some things to remember when seeking health care services.

  • Speak up. If you have questions or concerns, be sure and ask.
  • Make sure your Primary Care Physician is in charge. Having one person who understands your health condition and history allows you to get the right care, in the right place and at the right time.
  • Tell health care workers about you and your condition. You might think everyone who provides care or service to you in a doctor's office or hospital knows all about you, but they may not. Be sure to tell them.
  • Take a family or friend to doctor or hospital visits. Taking another person along provides another set of ears to listen when things are explained. It also gives you someone to do things for you or speak up for you if you can't.
  • "More" is not always better. Find out why a test or service is needed and how it will help you. It is possible you may not need it. Be sure to consult with your doctor. If you're still unsure, get a second opinion.
  • Always be sure to get test results. If you have a test, don't assume that no news is good news. Ask your doctor or nurse to explain the results of the tests.
  • Do your homework. If your doctor recommends a test or treatment, be sure you find out all there is to know from sources you can trust.

If you ever find yourself in the hospital, you'll likely have many health care workers taking care of you. While they take every precaution to make sure there are no errors made while treating you, sometimes errors can happen. By taking an active role in your care, you can help to ensure the care you receive is the right care for you.

Should you find yourself needing hospital care, be sure to:

  • Do your homework.
    Make sure that the hospital where you're being treated has experience with your condition. If you need help getting this information, ask your doctor.
  • See that health care workers wash their hands before caring for you.
    This is one way to prevent the spread of germs at home and infections in a hospital. Studies have shown that when patients checked whether health care staff had washed their hands, the workers washed their hands more often and used more soap.
  • Ask about services or tests.
    Make sure to ask what test or X-ray is being done to make sure you are getting the right test. In the example of a knee surgery, be sure that the correct knee is prepped for surgery. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that their physicians sign their initials on the site of the operation before surgery.
  • Ask about what to do when you get home.
    Before leaving the hospital, be sure the doctor talks to you about any medicines you need to take. Make sure you know how often to take the medicine, what dose to take, and any side effects to expect from it. Also ask when you can return to your regular activities. See if the doctor has advice on things you can do to help your recovery.

If you have any questions or if things just don't seem right after you come home, be sure to call your doctor right away.