Week encouraged, empowered patients



by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs


3/18/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Members of Maxwell's health and wellness center asked, "Are you in?"

Patient Safety Week aimed to keep patients involved, informed and invested in their health care.

HAWC hosted a lunch-and-learn program March 10 at the Maxwell clinic, providing a healthy lunch and lecture on patient safety.

Wanda Myrick, the health education program manager, showed members of the Maxwell community how healthy food can be tasty with her baked ziti.

"This is a complete meal, low in calories," said Tech. Sgt. Henry Myers, the diet therapy technician.

The HAWC staff distributed the ziti recipe and information on safe food preparation.

Sarah Franklin, a family nurse practitioner, spoke on ways patients should stay invested in their health care.

She encouraged patients to ask their doctors and health care providers questions during their appointments and ensure all medications are clearly explained.

"By increasing awareness of diseases, we speed up the healing process," she said. "Overall patient care will improve."

She said patients have the right to trust their doctors and can request a new physician if necessary. Greater patient satisfaction leads to increased trust and continued health care.

"If people don't believe what you're doing is right, they're not going to take their medications," she told the health care employees. "We have to find a route that will work for them."

Ms. Franklin said an important way patients can stay informed is by bringing all their prescriptions and supplements to each appointment.

When doctors prescribe new medications, patients can ask about interactions with their current drugs.

Patients also should invest in their appointments by preparing a written list of questions and ensuring their doctors have complete medical records.

She provided some steps to safer health care:

· Ask questions if you have doubts and concerns.

· Get the results of all tests and procedures. Don't assume that no news is good news.

· Talk to your doctor about which hospital or specialist is best for your health needs.

· Make sure you know what will happen before, during and after surgeries and procedures.