10 Tips for Safer Healthcare

10 Tips for Safer Healthcare

This summary has been produced by the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care to improve the safety of healthcare in Australia. These 10 tips can help you to become more active in your healthcare.

Please click on any of the statements below for further information.


Be actively involved in your own healthcare.

Taking part in decisions that are made about your treatment is the single most important way to help prevent things from going wrong and get the best possible care for your needs.

Speak up if you have any questions or concerns.

  • Choose a health care professional with whom you feel comfortable talking about your health and treatment
  • Ask questions and expect answers that you can understand
  • Ask a family member, carer or interpreter to be there with you, if you won’t

Learn more about your condition or treatments by asking your doctor or nurse and by using other reliable sources of information. Collect as much reliable information as you can about your condition, tests and treatment.

Ask your health care professional:

  • Can you tell me more about my condition?
  • How sure are you that I have this condition?
  • Do you have any information that 1 can take away with me?
  • Can you tell me where I can find out more?
  • Why do I need to have this particular test?
  • What are the different treatments for this condition?
  • How will this treatment help me?
  • Is this treatment based on the latest scientific evidence?
  • What are the risks of this treatment?
  • What is likely to happen if I don't have this treatment?
  • What should look out for?
  • What can I do to help myself?
  • When should I come back to see you?

Keep a list of all the medicines you are taking.

You can use this list to let your doctor or pharmacist know about everything you are taking. Include prescriptions, over the counter and complementary medicines (e.g. vitamins & herbal remedies). Include information about drug allergies you may have.

Make sure you understand the medicines you are taking.

Read the label, including the warnings. Make sure it is what your doctor ordered for you.

  • Do you have any written information about this medication?
  • What do the directions on the label mean?
  • How much should I take, and when should I take it?
  • What are the common side effects?
  • What should I look out for?
  • How long before it starts to work?
  • Will this medicine interact with other medicines that I am taking?
  • Are there any foods or other things that I should avoid while l am on this medicine?
  • How long do I need to take this medicine for?

Make sure you get the results of any test or procedure.

  • Call your doctor to find out your results
  • Ask what they mean for your care

Talk to your doctor or health care professional about your options if you need to go to hospital. 

  • Ask how quickly does this need to happen?
  • Ask is there is an option to have the surgery/procedure done as a day patient?
  • Ask if there is more than one hospital to choose from?
  • Ask which hospital has the best core and results for treating my condition?

Make sure you understand what will happen if you need surgery or a procedure.

  • Ask what the surgery or procedure will involve and who will be in charge of my care
  • Ask how will having this surgery / procedure help me?
  • Ask what the possible risks of having this surgery / procedure are and what are the chances of this happening?
  • Ask what will happen if I don't have this surgery / procedure or If there are other ways for my condition to be treated?
  • Ask what will it involve and how long it will take?
  • Ask what will happen after the surgery / procedure and how long will I be in hospital for?
  • Ask how much if will cost?

Make sure you, your doctor and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done during the operation.

Confirm which operation will be performed and the site, as close as possible to it happening. You will be asked repeated times to state your name, the procedure/ operation being performed and the site where the operation will be performed if necessary. Do not be alarmed, this is purely to ensure all the health care professionals caring for you have the correct information.

Before you leave hospital, ask your health care professional to explain the treatment plan you will use at home.

  • Make sure you understand who will be following up on your care and when you need to see them
  • Make sure you understand your medications and how long you will be taking them for
  • Ask if you will be requiring physiotherapy or other rehabilitation service?
  • Ask when you may return to work, sport or when you can drive?
  • Make sure you take home all x ray films, medications, follow up appointment times and a written discharge summary to pass on to your GP
  • Visit your GP as soon as possible after you are discharged