Patient Safety – It’s Safer to Ask

Patient Safety First

Patients and family members who are more informed and involved in their healthcare often experience safer and better care and have improved quality of life afterwards.Safer to ask

To ensure that you or your family member receive the best care possible you should always:

  • Ask questions
  • Talk with your healthcare team
  • Listen and note down the information they give

Healthcare workers and managers have a responsibility to make healthcare as safe as possible, but patients and their families can also play an important role in this area. It is vital that everyone talks to and listens to each other to ensure we can all make our healthcare services safer.

If you feel shy about asking questions, or are worried you might forget something, you can always ask someone to come with you or to listen when you are talking to the nurse, doctor or healthcare worker.

Remember - it's safer to ask!


Here are some tips to follow when attending any health or social care service

  • Write down questions before your appointment and take notes at your appointment - you can use the spaces on the 'It's Safer to Ask'- start now!
  • Learn about your condition and treatments by asking your healthcare providers and using other reliable sources.
  • Be sure to speak up if you have any questions or any concerns, for example if you feel that:
    a) there is something else the health professional should know or might have misunderstood;
    b) your treatment is not going according to plan, or something was not clearly explained to you.
  • Tell your doctor about any previous treatments or surgeries, any allergies and any current treatment you are receiving.
  • Inform your doctor of any health conditions that run in your family.
  • Ask about the benefits and risks of any treatment that are suggested and what the treatment involves.
  • If you have had a test, do not assume that no news is good news.
  • If you hear nothing back, call your doctor and ask for the results.
  • If having surgery, clarify with your doctor so that everyone is clear about exactly what is going to be done.

Your care plan

Questions that you can ask your healthcare team

Prepare a list of questions, concerns and symptoms to discuss with your doctor or healthcare professional. Do not worry if your questions seem obvious - it is always better to ask!

Here are a few suggested questions to get you started.

  1. Can you please tell me more about my condition?
  2. What are the different treatments for this condition?
  3. How will this treatment help me?
  4. What does the treatment involve?
  5. What are the risks of this treatment?
  6. What is likely to happen if I do not have this treatment?
  7. If you are being recommended to undergo a test, ask why you need this test and what will it involve?
  8. Are there signs and symptoms I should look out for?
  9. What can I do to help improve my health?
  10. If you need to take medication, ask how often do I need to take the medication, what is the reason for taking it and the possible side effects?
  11. If you have a long-term health condition ask about what supports are available to help you manage your condition?
  12. When should I come back to see you

Download the 'It's Safer to Ask' leaflet here