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CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — During Patient Safety Awareness Week, a national initiative that runs through Saturday, health experts are urging patients to take charge of their own care.

"We want patients to ask questions," said Lauren Nobriga, a nurse and the patient safety officer at U.S Naval Hospital Okinawa. "What are these medications for? What are these tests for? What does my follow-up treatment entail?"

The goal is to prevent errors from occurring during medical care, she said.

There are no dumb questions when it comes to health care, hospital spokesman Brian Davis said.

"It’s on the patients to ask if they don’t understand," he said.

Nobriga offered several suggestions for patients to make their health care safer:

Ask about any concerns.Bring a list to appointments of all current medications, including over-the-counter drugs, herbal remedies and vitamin supplements.Keep copies of all test results and medical treatments.Discuss with medical staff all options involved with hospital care.Understand every aspect of prospective surgeries.Now is also a good time to go through home medicine cabinets and throw away any expired medications, Nobriga said. And never share prescribed medications with others, she said.

Patients must also ensure their contact information is current so medical staff can notify them about test results and reminders for annual exams, Davis said.

For more information about patient safety, see www.npsf.org/hp/psaw.

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