Having a Say: Patients Steer the Way

As a breast cancer survivor, Lucretia Jackson knows what it’s like to be a patient. As an elementary school principal, she understands the importance of listening. Lucretia brings both of those skill sets and a seemingly endless supply of energy and dedication to her role as a patient advisor to the hospital safety committee.

On the hospital safety committee, we discuss various topics dealing with quality and patient safety. We also talk about what patient advisors can do to advocate for whatever we see that can be improved within the hospital from a patient’s perspective.

One of the things we emphasize with regard to patient care is nothing about me without me. As a patient, nothing should ever happen to you without you being part of it. I think it’s crucial to build a culture of patient and family centered safety. We did a lot of brainstorming about different things we could use to improve the handbook that we give to the patients. We thought about videos that we can show to patients as they enter the hospital.

I worked very closely with the company that created the hospital whiteboards—a communication tool. The hospital whiteboard is posted inside the rooms and has all the important information pertaining to that patient. It has contact information for the physician or nurse on-call, and uses the SMART acronym: Symptoms, Medications, Appointments, Results and Talking points. It can also include the potential discharge date and the family spokesperson. It even has a spot where a family member can say “contact me” or if they have a question they can pose a question on it and ask for an answer to that question. Patient input on this type of thing is very beneficial.

It’s more beneficial than anything for me to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of the patient/family perspective at every point along the continuum of healthcare and decision making and delivery.

In my heart, I feel it is an invaluable experience for anyone to serve as a patient advocate–I’m getting to know the “ins and outs” of the hospital and I have an opportunity to see how extremely hard the staff work to make sure everything is done efficiently and effectively when it pertains to patients. They’re with us 100 percent.

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