Patient Safety Awareness Week: March 7-13, 2010


PULSE of NY Kicks off Patient Safety Awareness Week

Medical errors claim more lives each year in America than breast cancer, AIDS and car accidents – combined. PULSE of NY has been working to reduce medical errors by helping patients and healthcare providers communicate more clearly.

Each year, PULSE supports Patient Safety Awareness Week, a national campaign where hospitals and healthcare organizations educate the public about patient safety and medical errors. The 2010 theme – Let’s Talk! Healthy Conversations for Safer Healthcare – focuses on communication. Plain talk between provider, patient and families helps treatment go smoothly and reduces unnecessary care.

“Errors are happening and people need to protect themselves,” said PULSE President Ilene Corina, who got the awareness week started as a national event in 2002. “We – the patients and families – must take an active role in reducing medical errors by speaking up when we don’t understand our healthcare information.”

PULSE trains “patient-safety advocates” to help friends and family members navigate the health care system and foster clear communication.

Here are some tips for advocates:

 Identify yourself as a friend; “advocate” may make providers uneasy.

 Bring two pens and a notebook to every doctor’s office and healthcare facility.

 List patient’s symptoms, allergies, medications, herbs and supplements, history of surgeries, substance abuse and medical problems.

 Always ask for lab results. Don’t assume no news is good news.

 Have information on healthcare proxy and advanced directives.

 Don’t wait to fill out forms at the hospital. Call ahead and help the patient complete the paperwork in advance.

 Be honest with the patient and respect his or her privacy. Ask about staying in the room during the exam. Be prepared to leave if requested.

 Follow the patient’s lead. Don’t interrupt.

 Find out why the procedure or surgery is needed and why it will help the patient.

 Ask all medical professionals to wash their hands before touching the patient.

 Check all medications. Make sure they are delivered in the original wrapper.

For more information visit To learn more about Patient Safety Awareness Week visit