Everyone has a role in making health care safe. You, as the patient, also can play a vital role in making your care safe by becoming an active, involved and informed member of your health care team.
For safety reasons, before staff draw blood, administer blood products, and administer medications or treatments, they will verify your name, birthdate and allergies.
You have the responsibility to:
- Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.
- Speak up if you have questions or concerns, or don’t understand something about your care.
- Pay attention to the care you are receiving, and ask questions if something doesn’t seem right.
- Expect health care workers to introduce themselves when they enter your room. Look for their identification badges. A new mother, for example, should know the person to whom she is handing her baby. If you are unsure, ask.
- Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing and your treatment plan.
- Thoroughly read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign.
- Make sure you are familiar with the operation of any equipment that will be used for your care at home. If you will be using oxygen at home, do not smoke or allow anyone to smoke near you while oxygen is in use.
- Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate, and make sure this person understands your preferences in health care treatment decisions. Your advocate can ask questions that you may not think of while you are under stress. Your advocate also can help remember answers to questions you have asked and speak up for you if you cannot.
- Make sure your advocate understands the type of care you will need when you get home. Your advocate should know what to look for if your condition is getting worse and who to call for help.
- Know what medications you take and why you take them. Ask questions if you aren’t sure.
- Ask about the purpose of the medication and ask for written information about it, including its brand and generic names. Also inquire about the side effects of the medication.
- Verify that a medication is for you if you do not recognize it. Ask about oral medications before swallowing, and read the contents of bags of intravenous (IV) fluids. If you're not well enough to do this, ask your advocate to do this.
- Tell your doctors and nurses about allergies or previous negative reactions to medications whenever you are going to receive a new medication.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take multiple medications together. This holds true for vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter drugs, too.
- Ask about follow-up care before you leave the Hospital and make sure you understand all the instructions.
Hospital Visitor Guidelines
Some disease processes necessitate the use of special precautions before entering a patient room. A stop sign will be placed outside the door to the room to indicate that a nurse needs to advise you if items such as a mask or gown are needed to protect either the patient or you. For everyone's safety, please adhere to the information that is provided.
Clean Your Hands
Avoiding contagious diseases like the common cold, strep throat and the flu is important to everyone. Here are some easy things you can do to fight the spread of infection.
- Use soap and warm water. Rub your hands really well for at least 15 seconds.
- If your hands do not look dirty, clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Rub the sanitizer all over your hands, especially under your nails and between your fingers, until your hands are dry.
- Clean your hands before touching or eating food. Clean them after you use the bathroom, take out the trash, change a diaper, visit someone who is ill, or play with a pet.
- In an effort to protect you, your health care providers will wash their hands and wear gloves during certain procedures.
Cover Your Cough
Many diseases are spread through sneezes and coughs. When you sneeze or cough, the germs can travel 3 feet or more! Cover your mouth and nose to prevent the spread of infection to others.
- Use a tissue! Keep tissues handy at home, at work and in your pocket. Be sure to throw away used tissues and then clean your hands.
- If you don't have a tissue, cover your mouth and nose with the bend of your elbow or hands. If you use your hands, wash them right away.
- If you are sick, stay away from other people. Stay home if you have a fever. Call work or school and tell them you are sick.
- When you go for medical treatment, call ahead and ask if there's anything you can do to avoid infecting people in the waiting room.