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Patients & Visitors - Patient & Visitor Safety - Your Health Care: Be Involved



Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care team members are committed to making sure that your care is as safe as possible but patients and family members can help too. Here are some tips that can help you be a part of the safety team at the hospital.


Speak up if you have any questions or concerns about your care.

One of the best ways of getting the best health care is to be an active member of your health care team. This means asking questions so that the best decision can be made. It also means coming prepared for your medical treatment and knowing what to do when you go home.


Write down your questions and bring them with you when you see your health care team member. It is important to understand as much as possible about any medical problem you have (your diagnosis), treatment or procedure you will have, and the medicine you should take and how to take it. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask.


Write down your answers as you are talking with your health care provider so that you can review them later. Ask a family member or friend to come with you when you talk to your health care team. It is easy to be overwhelmed by a lot of information and your family member or friend can help you ask important questions. If you need an interpreter, ask in advance if there will be one there, or bring someone who can interpret for you.


Tell a member of your health care team about your past illnesses and your current health condition.
Tell your health care team everything you can, even if you think they already know, and even if you think it is not important. This includes your ongoing illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease, whether you have seen another doctor or gone somewhere else for health care, any surgery or recent visits to the hospital, and any medications that you are taking.


Bring all of your medicines with you when you go to the hospital or to a medical appointment.
Some medicines combine with each other in your body and can produce bad reactions. To protect you, make sure that your health care team knows about everything that you are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, natural and herbal products and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.


When you go to the hospital or to a medical appointment, it is helpful if you put all of your medicines in a bag and take them with you. If you cannot bring the medicines with you, bring an up-to-date list of your medications.


Tell your health care team if you have ever had an allergic or bad reaction to any medicine, food or latex.
This includes reactions to any medications, including drugs used during surgery and medications used before receiving certain x-ray procedures.


In the hospital, you can help ensure your safety

  • Cleaning your hands is the best way to fi ght the spread of infection. Clean your hands frequently. It is a good idea to ask everyone - your health care team and visitors - to clean their hands. Guidelines are posted in the hospital or you may ask your health care team for assistance.
  • Ask sick visitors to refrain from visiting while you are in the hospital.
  • Ask every person to identify themselves when they come into your room.
  • Before you go in for a procedure, tell the health care provider your name, ask to make sure you are the patient they are expecting and that they are doing the correct procedure.
  • Before you receive any medication, make sure the health care provider checks your hospital ID bracelet. If you receive medication in an outpatient setting, make sure your health care provider checks your full name and address.• Ask questions about medications that you are about to receive, such as the name and what it is used for. If it doesn’t look like what you usually take, ask why.

Make sure you know what to do when you go home from the hospital or from your medical appointment.

Before you go home, ask as many questions as you can to make sure you understand:

  • What treatment you received
  • Whether you will need a prescription fi lled
  • What symptoms to watch for and who to call if something does not feel right
  • What medicine you must take, how to take it and any side effects
  • What foods you should eat and not eat
  • When you can go back to normal activities, such as work, school, exercise and driving
  • What follow-up appointments you will need and who will make them.


Your health care team promises to work with you and welcomes your questions and participation in the work of the safety team here at the hospital.


Adapted from the Ontario Hospital Association’s Patient Safety Support Service brochure: “Your Health Care Be Involved”.

Mackenzie Health / 10 Trench St. Richmond Hill, On. L4C 4Z3 / Richmond Hill Line: 905-883-1212 or Vaughan Line: 905-832-4554 / TTY Service: 905-883-2123