Health care personnel might take care of tens to hundreds of patients at one point in time. This increases the risk of medical errors.  If the patient is one of his/her own doctors then this risk is decreased. By this I mean patient engagement or involvement.

So what is patient engagement? Patient engagement is part and parcel of the patient’s roles and responsibilities.

I will start by explaining what the patient’s roles and responsibilities are.  These start off by building trust between the patient and the healthcare provider.  For this to occur, like any relationship, openness and clarity must occur.  Openness must be on both sides.  The patient must be clear, and the doctor has to be clear.  This develops a good doctor-patient relationship.

Physicians need to encourage patients to be involved. To start off physicians need to allocate sufficient time for each patient.  They should reassure them of the confidentiality of their visits. Patients should know that their relationship with their physician is a partnership, and each patient needs to know his/her role in this partnership.  Patients should be free to ask questions, should be confident in listing their meds including herbal medications and over the counter medications.  In certain situations, patients should be able to administer their own meds, ask about what meds they are taking, ask about what tests they are taking and even bring in support if needed.

The more involved the patient is in his/her care, the less the medical error.  Because at the end of the day, no one knows more about the patient’s history more than the patient.

  1. Patient, Family and Caregiver Engagement (
  2. How can we make the partnership with patients/families more impactful? (
  3. Learning from the best: A webinar with the Patient Safety Champion Awards Finalists (
  4. Better-Together-Facts-and-Figures.pdf (
  5. Patient Safety (

By Dr. Rola Ali-Hassan, CCFP

Consultant Family Medicine