Patient Safety In The Hospital
Why do I need to know about patient safety in the hospital?
Patient Safety In The Hospital Care Guide
- Patient Safety In The Hospital
- En Espanol
People go to the hospital for surgeries, procedures, and treatments. While you are in the hospital, busy caregivers can use your help. Work together with caregivers to make the hospital a safe place to be. You can help control the spread of germs. You can do certain things to decrease your risk of falling. You can also help decrease the risk of medication and other errors while you are in the hospital. It is also very important that you learn all that you can about your condition, treatment, procedure or surgery.
How can I help to control the spread of germs?
- Wash your hands often. Good handwashing will help prevent spreading germs. Germs that may cause infection or make your condition worse. Wash your hands often, especially after you have gone to the bathroom, and before eating. Remind caregivers to wash their hands or wear gloves when caring for you.
- Do not allow sick people to visit. Ask friends and family with colds or other infections not to visit if they are sick. You may be on isolation precautions. These are rules that must be kept to help keep disease from spreading to you from other people. These rules also help keep germs from spreading from you to other people. For example, everyone may have to wear gloves, masks, and gowns while they are in your hospital room. You may also need to wear a mask.
- Ask if you should be vaccinated . If you have diabetes, or heart, lung, kidney or other major organ problems, ask about vaccines (shots). You may need to have a flu or pneumonia vaccine to help your body fight those infections.
- Change dirty linens and wash other objects. Let caregivers know if your bedding, gown, or other linens are dirty. They will change the bed or give you a clean gown or towel. Wash all personal items if they fall on the floor. Wash plastic or rubber items using hot water and soap in the sink. Take objects made of cloth home to wash in the washing machine.
- Ask caregivers before items are brought in from home. Items like fresh flowers, plants, or candy and other food products may carry germs and disease. Ask caregivers if it is OK to have these items in your hospital room before they are brought in.
What can I do to help prevent falls?
- Wear safe clothing. Wear slippers with rubber soles to help prevent slipping. Wear robes and pajamas that do not drag on the ground. Ask for help dressing and undressing if you need it. Make sure the bathtub or shower area is covered with a slip-resistant surface. Ask for help taking a bath or shower if help is needed.
- Avoid rolling out of bed. While lying in bed, keep the side rails up on your bed at all times if that is needed. This may be needed if you get confused at night or during the day. Keep the side rails up if you have tubes and lines, such as an IV (intravenous) line, or a catheter in your body. The side rails may remind you to be careful when you get up and walk.
- Ask for help when getting out of bed. Trying to get out of bed without help is the most common cause of falls in the hospital. If you are not able to get out of bed by yourself, use the call button. This will call a caregiver to help you get out of bed safely. Make sure the bed is at a low enough level to get out comfortably. Ask a caregiver to lower the bed if it is raised too high.
- Prepare a clear path. Know where your bathroom is and have a clear path to get there. Leave a night light on to make it easier to see while moving around your hospital room. If you wear glasses, wear them both in and out of bed. Ask a caregiver to clean up liquid spills and move objects that may block your way. Ask for help walking with an IV pole or other equipment. Have someone stay near you if you are weak, sleepy, or cannot see very well.
Talk to your caregivers:
- Ask questions until you understand your health condition well. Be sure that you clearly understand your health condition. If you have any questions about your health problems or care, ask a caregiver. If a caregiver is not available, write down your questions to help you remember them. If you do not understand something, or feel uncomfortable about your care, ask the caregiver again. You may also ask a different caregiver (get a second opinion) about your condition and care.
- Ask for an interpreter. Ask for help understanding what is being told to you. This is very important if you cannot hear well, or if you are deaf. It is also very important if you are not familiar with the language that is being spoken to you.
- Tell caregivers about your allergies. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to any drugs or foods, or have any other allergies.
- Clearly understand all discharge instructions. Ask for an instruction sheet to take home with you. This way you will have care and medication instructions written down in case you forget them. Have the phone number for your caregiver written down to report problems, or ask questions.
- Let caregivers know when you are being left alone. If you have family or friends visiting and helping with your care, tell caregivers when they leave. Your visitors may also tell caregivers as they are leaving. This will let caregivers know that they should check on you more often. Caregivers may have many patients to care for. They may not be able to spend as much time with you as they would like to. Ask visitors to take turns staying with you while you are in the hospital. Visitors can help you pass the time, and help you with meals, grooming, and other tasks.
How can I decrease the chance of medication errors?
- Always wear your identification (ID) band. Make sure all the information on your ID band is correct before you put it on. Do not remove your ID band, even if it feels uncomfortable. Ask your caregiver to loosen the band or make it more comfortable while you are in the hospital.
- Learn about your medications. Ask your caregiver about each medicine every time it is offered to you. Ask them what it is, and why it is ordered for you. Know when you should be given each medicine, and the color and shape of each pill. If a caregiver offers you a medicine that you do not know about, ask about it before taking it.
- Do not take other medicines without asking your caregiver first. Do not bring in medicines from home unless your caregiver asks you to. Ask before taking Do not take any medicines that your doctor in the hospital has not ordered. These include other prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements.
- Tell caregivers if you think there are problems with the medicine. Tell your caregivers if you think a medicine is not helping, or is causing side effects. Tell caregivers right away if you think you are having an allergic reaction to a medicine. Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include itching or hives, and swelling in your face or hands. You may also have swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness and trouble breathing.
What should I know about treatments, procedures and surgery?
- Learn about your treatments. Learn about any treatments you will receive while in the hospital. Ask why the treatment is being given, how you can help, and what to expect after it is over. This way you can help caregivers know if there are problems during or after the treatment. If you have tubes or dressings, tell caregivers if they become loose or wet. Caregivers will check if IV tubes, catheters, or other tubes are still in the right place. They may need to change a loose or wet dressing, or replace a tube or drain.
- Read and understand all consent forms for treatments, procedures and surgeries before you sign them. Ask caregivers for more information about your treatment, procedure or surgery if you need it. There also may be hand-outs or videos available for you to see.
- If possible, have someone else with you when treatments, procedures, and surgeries are explained to you. Having someone else listening may help you feel calmer. Another person may hear or understand information differently than you do. They may also have other questions to ask. Keep a notebook with you for questions, and write down the answers.
What should I know about hospital equipment?
- Lock all equipment wheels. Make sure your wheelchair wheels are locked before sitting in it, or getting up out of it. Lock all bed wheels to keep the bed from sliding away while you are getting in or out.
- Know about your equipment. Ask your caregiver about your equipment. Ask why each piece of equipment is attached to you, and how it should work. Ask about equipment alarms and what you should do if the alarm sounds. Ask caregivers what you can touch on the equipment without harming yourself or the equipment.
What should I do before I go home?
- Before you leave the hospital, make sure you understand what you are to do at home. Ask for a telephone number for someone you can call with questions, or to get help. If you will have caregivers come to your house, you should be told what days they will arrive.
- Ask about your activity. Learn what activities you should and should not be doing at home.
- If you have papers with medicine orders (prescriptions) from your doctor, get the prescriptions filled as soon as possible. Arrange to have family members or friends help you. Know what each medicine is for, how much, and how often you are to take it. Ask for written information about your medicine.
- Ask your pharmacist for a special measuring spoon if you are to take liquid medicine. Since the spoons that you use at home may be of different sizes, do not use your spoons at home. If you have questions about how to take your medicine, as your pharmacist.
How can I learn more about patient safety in the hospital?
You may contact the following:
- National Patient Safety Foundation
1120 MASS MoCA Way
North Adams , MA 01247
Phone: 1- 413 - 663-8900
Web Address: www.npsf.org
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.