Patient Safety

Questions About Safety: Healthcare organizations across the country have made healthcare safety a priority. Everyone plays a role. As a patient, you have a responsibility to be an active, involved and informed partner on your healthcare team. Your health is too important to worry about being embarrassed if you don’t understand something that your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional tells you. Don’t be afraid to ask about your safety.

1. Pay attention to the care you are receiving.

  • Expect all healthcare staff to introduce themselves when they enter your room, and look for their identification badges. If you do not see identification, ask the person to introduce him or herself, and tell you his or her role in your care.
  • Make sure the staff checks your name band before giving you medicine, taking blood, or doing any procedure.
  • Please observe the safety precautions that have been designed as part of your treatment plan. For example, you may be asked not to get out of bed without someone helping you.
  • A nurse call light has been given to you so you can call for help if needed. Please be sure to keep it within your reach. Do not hesitate to call for help for any reason.

2. Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are having and your treatment plan.

  • Learn about your condition and treatments by asking your doctor or nurse.
  • Write down important facts.
  • Read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything. If you don’t understand the form, ask a doctor or registered nurse to explain it to you.
  • Ask about test results. Do not assume that everything is OK if you do not hear.
  • Depending on your reason for being hospitalized, staff and visitors may have to take certain precautions. Often this is to prevent the spread of infection. Your doctor will discuss this with you if this is necessary. Your cooperation and understanding is appreciated.

3. Know what medications you take and why you take them.

  • If you are given an intravenous (I.V.), ask the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to “run out.” Tell the nurse if it doesn’t seem to be dripping properly (for example, going too fast or too slow).
  • Make sure your doctors, nurses and pharmacists know about everything you are taking. This means prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements like vitamins and herbs.
  • Ask why you are taking the medications when they are prescribed and when you receive them.
  • If you do not recognize the name or appearance of a medicine, make sure it is for you.
  • Make sure your doctors, nurses and pharmacists know about allergies and adverse reactions you have had to any medicines.
  • When your doctor writes a prescription, make sure you can read it.

4. Speak up if you have questions or concerns; and if you do not understand, ask again. You have a right to know.

  • Please advise your nurse about any safety concerns you may have. Some examples of this might be: “I didn’t get my medicine on time” or “I didn’t see the nurse or doctor wash their hands” or “The staff are not wearing their name tags.”
  • Doctors, nurses and other health care providers come into contact with lots of bacteria and viruses. So before they treat you, ask them if they have cleaned their hands.
  • If you do not see healthcare workers washing or sanitizing their hands on entering your room to care for you, we want you to speak up and ask the staff members to wash or sanitize their hands. You may also ask to speak to the Nurse Manager who will speak with the staff member.
  • Health care providers should wear clean gloves when they perform tasks like taking throat cultures, taking blood, touching wounds or body fluids, and examining you. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they should be wearing gloves.

5. Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the healthcare team.

  • If you feel you are too ill to assume this responsibility, you should ask a family member or authorized representative to ask questions on your behalf. Make sure your family member or authorized representative understands your preferences for care and your wishes concerning resuscitation and life support.