Patient Safety: Communication

Communication is the most important aid to patient safety. Talking regularly with the people who are caring for you can help clear up a misunderstanding before it creates a problem.

Here are some things you can do to ensure clear communication with your caregivers at the hospital:

  • Speak up and ask questions, especially if you are unclear, unsure or confused about the care or instructions you are given
  • Feel free to ask caregivers who they are, what they're doing and where they're taking you
  • Pay attention to the tests, treatments and medications given to you
  • Speak up if something does not seem right to you

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are ready to go home:

  • Make sure you are clear about your written discharge instructions, including medicines and the need for a follow-up visit
  • Don't worry if you need to ask someone to repeat the instructions
  • Be sure you are given a phone number to call if you have questions

If you need help communicating, a family member or friend can listen and ask questions to help you understand what doctors, nurses and others are saying. Translation services and hearing-impaired assistance are also available any time of day or night, at no cost to you.

Remember, you have the right to be well-informed, well-cared for, and safe. You also have the right to ask for a second opinion or even a transfer to another hospital if you do not feel safe. Don't be afraid to challenge and be assertive. A confident caregiver will appreciate your desire to understand and learn more about your medical care.

If you have questions or concerns about your care or safety, talk to your nurse, a patient service manager, your doctor, or call patient relations at 203.688.3430.

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