Objective: The objective of this article was to provide a guide to health care providers on patient and family involvement in health care.
Methods: This article evaluated the latest published studies for patient and family involvement and reexamined the objectives, the requirements for achieving these objectives, and the evidence of how to involve patients and families.
Results: Critical components for patient safety include changing the organizational culture; including patients and families on teams; listening to patients and families; incorporating their input into leadership structures and systems; providing full detail about treatment, procedures, and medication adverse effects; involving them on patient safety and performance improvement committees; and disclosing medical errors.
Conclusions: The conclusion of this article is that, for the future, patient and family involvement starts with educating patients and families and ends with listening to them and taking them seriously. If patient and family input is emphatically built into systems of performance improvement, and if patients and families are taken seriously and are respected for their valuable perspectives about how care can be improved, then organizations can improve at improving. Resources in health care are in short supply, yet the resources of patient and family help and time are almost limitless, are ready to be tapped, and can have a huge impact on improving the reliability and overall success for any health care organization.
From the *National Quality Forum, Washington, District of Columbia; †Persons United Limiting Substandards and Errors in Healthcare, Pueblo, Colorado; ‡Center for Research and Nursing Innovation, The University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California; §First Group, Oro Valley, Arizona; ∥Voice for Patients, Warren, Maine; ¶Nurse Practitioner, Port Richey, Florida; **Families Advocating Injury Reduction, LaGrange, Illinois; ††Patients for Patient Safety,World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland; ‡‡Texas Medical Institute of Technology, Austin, Texas; and; §§Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
Correspondence: Charles R. Denham, MD, Texas Medical Institute of Technology, 3011 N Interregional Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78722 (e-mail: Charles_Denham@tmit1.org).
Funding support for this article was provided by Texas Medical Institute of Technology.