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Patient Safety - The Patient's Role

As a patient, you can play a vital role in making your care safe by becoming an active, involved and informed participant in your health care.

Ask Questions

  • Speak up if you have concerns. It's okay to ask questions and to expect answers you can understand.
  • Choose a doctor who you feel comfortable talking to about your health and treatment.
  • Don't be afraid to ask about safety.
  • Don't be afraid to tell the nurse or doctor if you think you are about to receive the wrong medication or you think he or she has confused you with another patient.
  • Notice whether your caregivers have washed their hands or used the alcohol hand cleaner. Hand hygiene is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections. Don't be afraid to gently remind a doctor or nurse to do this.


  • Keep a list of all medications you take.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbs, and any drug allergies you have.

Test Results

  • Make sure you get the results of all tests and procedures.
  • Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing and your treatment plan. Some resources are the McLaren Port Huron Lang Library which you can reach by calling 810.987.5000, extension 5107; the HealthAccess toll-free information line at 1.800.228.1484 or locally at 989.3199, or by accessing the health library (link) here on our website. Another helpful online source is, a public resource on clinical lab testing.
  • Thoroughly read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything. If you don't understand something, ask your doctor.


  • Ask a trusted family member or freind to be with you and to be your advocate.
  • You might consider creating a durable power of attorney for healthcare document. Forms are available from your nurse or patient advocate if you are already in the hospital or online at the State of Michigan website:
    Click here to read about Planning for Your Peace of Mind. The eight page portion on advance directives begins on page 33.

Active Involvement in Care

  • Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of your healthcare plan.
  • You and your doctor should agree on what will be done during your care.
  • Know who is caring for you.