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Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations


The Joint Commission, the nation's leading authority on accreditation of healthcare organizations, has an initiative to help patients continue their recovery after leaving the hospital. The new patient education effort is the latest focus of the Joint Commission's award-winning Speak Up SM program, which urges individuals to take an active role in their health care.

The centerpiece of this initiative is a new brochure -- Planning Your Recovery -- which provides tips to help people get the information they need and become actively involved in their recovery. Patients who understand and follow directions about follow-up care are more likely to heal faster and less likely to require re-hospitalization.

"A patient's recovery is not complete just because he or she leaves the hospital. Recovery is dependent upon continuing to get the care you need to get better," says Dennis S. O'Leary, M.D., president, Joint Commission. "While a nurse, social worker, or discharge planners are often involved in helping patients plan for follow-up care, there are many things that patients and their families can do that will make a real difference. Full recovery is dependent upon continuing to get needed support and services."

"We know that when patients assert a more active role in the discharge process, they experience better health outcomes in terms of symptom control and functional status and they are also less likely to need to return to the hospital," says Eric A. Coleman, M.D., associate professor, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "So if you want to get better quicker, speak up!"

Specifically, the Joint Commission advises patients to:

Find out about your condition –
This includes knowing how soon you should feel better; setting reasonable expectations as to when you can resume everyday activities such as walking or preparing meals; knowing warning signs and symptoms to watch for; and enlisting the help of a family member or friend in your discharge from the hospital, as well as to look in on you once you leave the hospital.

Find out about new medicines –
It is important to request written directions about new medicines and how to take them. You should ask any questions you have before leaving the hospital. It is also important to find out whether other medicines, vitamins and herbs that you already take could interfere with the new drugs and whether there are any specific foods or drinks that you should avoid. 

Find out about follow-up care –
It is also important to ask for written directions about taking care of your wounds, using special equipment, or doing any required exercises; to ask about any further tests that you will need after you leave the hospital and who you should follow up with to get the results; to find out about follow-up visits to your physician or to the hospital and to make transportation arrangements for these visits; to review your insurance to find out whether the medicines and equipment needed for recovery will be covered; and to determine whether home care services will be necessary to support your recovery.

The information on recovery planning is provided through the basic framework of the "Speak Up" campaign, which urges patients to:

Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.

Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you're getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don't assume anything.

Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.

Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.

Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care errors.

Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by the Joint Commission.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

Consumers can visit the Speak Up section on the Joint Commission website that provides specific guidance to individuals planning for their recovery after leaving the hospital. Speak Up brochures also are available on preventing medication mistakes, preventing infections, preparing to become a living organ donor, avoiding wrong site surgery, and preventing errors in care.

emmibutton.jpg Mount St. Mary's Hospital cares for your safety. This video describes the information you should provide to your caregiver when you enter the hospital as well as what you need to know about your care. Thank You.
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