Facts About Speak Up Initiatives

In March 2002, The Joint Commission, together with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, launched a national campaign to urge patients to take a role in preventing health care errors by becoming active, involved and informed participants on the health care team. The program features brochures, posters and buttons on a variety of patient safety topics. Speak Up™ encourages the public to:

Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you still don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.

Pay attention to the care you get. Always make sure you're getting the right treatments and medicines by the right health care professionals. Don't assume anything.

Educate yourself about your illness. Learn about the medical tests you get, and your treatment plan.

Aas a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate (advisor or supporter).

Know what medicines you take and why you take them. Medicine errors are the most common health care mistakes.

Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has been carefully checked out. For example, The Joint Commission visits hospitals to see if they are meeting The Joint Commission's quality standards.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.
Speak Up Initiatives

Help Prevent Errors in Your Care
Help Avoid Mistakes in Your Surgery
Information for Living Organ Donors
Five Things You Can Do to Prevent Infection
Help Avoid Mistakes With Your Medicines
What You Should Know About Research Studies
Planning Your Follow-up Care
Help Prevent Medical Test Mistakes
Know Your Rights
Understanding Your Doctors and Other Caregivers
What You Should Know About Pain Management
Prevent Errors in Your Child's Care
Stay Well and Keep Others Well (a coloring book for children)
Tips for Your Doctor's Visit

The Success of Speak Up
In a survey conducted in 2008, of the more than 1,900 organizations that responded, nearly 85 percent reported that campaigns like Speak Up bring value to the accreditation and certification process; more than 80 percent rated the Speak up program as excellent or good; and more than 60 percent would use a free Speak Up video series if it was available. They also reported that the program has promoted and increased communication with both patients and staff about safety. Organizations are using Speak Up materials and information in a variety of ways:

Nearly 75 percent reported that they have reproduced or downloaded Speak Up brochures or posters and more than 32 percent have purchased Speak Up materials from Joint Commission Resources. The most reproduced and purchased brochures are the original Speak Up, Five Things You Can Do to Prevent Infection, Know Your Rights, and Help Avoid Mistakes With Your Medicines.

More than 67 percent have used Speak Up information in advertisements or billboards and nearly 30 percent have used it in closed circuit patient education television.

More than 60 percent have reprinted the information in the Speak Up brochures in their patient handbook or education materials.

Heath care organizations have reported printing Speak Up materials for patient rooms; sponsoring local public service announcements; including Speak Up content in patient information materials, websites and community newsletters; distributing material at health fairs; sharing it on closed circuit patient education television; using it for staff education and orientation; and distributing it on bedside tent cards. Since its launch in 2002, the Speak Up program has grown to include 11 campaign brochures and four posters, as well as Spanish language versions of all brochures.

Speak Up Materials
Free downloadable files of all Speak Up brochures and posters (including Spanish language versions of the brochures) are available on The Joint Commission Web Site.