Canadian Patient Safety Week is Here – It’s Time to #AskListenTalk


Canadian Patient Safety Week is Here – It’s Time to #AskListenTalk

Canadian Patient Safety Week is a national annual campaign started in 2005 to inspire extraordinary improvement in patient safety and quality. Working together, thousands of healthcare professionals, patients, and families help spread the message to Ask. Listen. Talk. The theme for Canadian Patient Safety Week 2016 is Questions Save Lives.

Pharmacy technicians are encouraged to ask questions, listen to the answers, and encourage patients to talk about concerns as a way of improving safety. So how can you improve communication between you and your patients?

Use Plain Language

Because we use “pharmacy speak” in our day-to-day work, it can be hard to move away from using language that may be confusing to patients. Making a conscious effort to avoid using medical jargon and providing vague instructions is a strategy for improving communication. Keep things simple and slow down the pace of your speech. If a patient uses a specific term to describe his or her medication, water pill for example, use that same terminology yourself.

Teach Back to Improve Understanding

When we can repeat something in our own words we learn better. Instead of asking the patient if he or she understands, ask them to show you how to use the new inhaler they’ve been provided. This will give you an opportunity to assess the patient’s comprehension and the chance for the patients to ask questions.

Effectively Solicit Questions

We often end patient interactions in a very closed-ended way by asking “Do you have any questions?” Do you sometimes feel hesitant to admit you don’t understand something? A patient may be feeling the same way. Asking instead, “What questions do you have?” provides an open invitation and may help you effectively solicit questions.

You can find out what other types of questions should be asked to make care safer by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook this week. Use the hashtag #AskListenTalk and share your ideas!