In the February 2016 edition of the Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, the editors released a letter entitled "Trust Is a Two-Way Street." Effectively, the lengthy note stated that doctors and patients must work together to develop optimal health care outcomes. It's this very idea that led to the creation of National Patient Safety Awareness Week, which takes place March 13-19, 2016. This is the week in which patients help build trust by understanding what it means to be knowledgeable contributors to their personal care.

"Doctors and patients must work together to create optimal health care outcomes."

In celebration of the event, here are a few important patient safety tips everyone can implement:

1. Always speak your mind
According to a 2011 review in the The Ochsner Journal Online, most patients are dissatisfied with their health care experience because communication with their doctors and nurses abruptly breaks down. On the patient end, that means doing your best to talk with doctors as often as possible, per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines. Patients shouldn't be afraid to ask questions no matter what these concerns might entail, and feelings of embarrassment are secondary to your health and well-being. If you have any issues, you should also bring those up immediately. Your doctor will know if something is wrong only if you mention it. 

2. Know how to approach doctors
In a special report, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons explained that most doctors operate on a very limited schedule and often have just a few minutes for each patient visit. People must recognize this dynamic and do their best to streamline the proceedings to optimize everyone's time. Begin by writing down every question before the visit and prioritizing the list based on overall importance. If you think you'll need more time, book a longer, nonstandard appointment that goes beyond just 30 minutes. Finally, don't just visit a doctor when you're in pain; even if you suspect something might be wrong only physically, schedule a visit right away to address the issue.

3. Understand your treatment
The health care industry doesn't operate by a one-size-fits-all approach. To make sure you're receiving a perfectly tailored health plan, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality said patients must understand all components of their treatment. What medications will you take and what are the side effects? Do you need to have this test or procedure done, or are there alternative options? Will you need to have someone stay with you following the test or treatment? What will the recovery process look like? Knowing what your entire treatment entails not only helps you feel more engaged but also can ensure doctors fully address your specific needs.

If you're looking for safe and effective medical treatment, you can always head to your local CareWell Urgent Care Center. At each CareWell facility – with dozens of locations across the East Coast – doctors actively engage with patients to develop the most effective treatment plans possible. From bumps and bruises to infections, CareWell physicians put patients at the center of the healing process.