Patient Safety Tips

You, as a member of our family, are an important part of your health care team. Because you are important to us, we want you to be an active participant in your safety. When you need more information on your condition, or don’t understand what was said, please tell us.

There are some specific steps you can take to stay safer during your hospitalization or clinic visit. One of the easiest is to ask those around you to wash their hands to help prevent the spread of infections.

Checklist For Your Safety:

#1 MEDICATION LIST:

Please bring a complete medication list with you whenever you come to the hospital or clinic. We need to know the name of each drug, how often you take it, the reason you take it and the time of the last dose. Please include any medication allergies and what type of allergic reaction you had in the past. Please include all over-the-counter medicines, herbs and natural remedies. This information is very important because your current medication use can impact treatment decisions.

#2 WASH THOSE HANDS:

Hand washing plays an important role in preventing infections in the hospital. Feel free to ask the nurses, doctors, lab staff or any other employee who comes into your room to wash their hands or to use a hand hygiene gel before touching you. Please ask your visitors to wash their hands or use the hand gel from any of the dispensers.

#3 ASK QUESTIONS:

If you are uncertain about any procedure or medication, please ask the person to stop and explain what they are about to do or what the medication is for. Feel free to ask again if you are not comfortable with the first answer. We want you to fully understand your disease, illness, procedure and medications so you can manage your health care when you are ready to go home.

#4 EXPECT QUESTIONS:

You will be asked frequently your name and date of birth. This is one of the ways that we help to keep you safe by verifying that we are giving the right medication or performing a procedure on the correct patient. Feel free to stop any staff member from doing anything to you if they have not asked you to state your name and date of birth.

#5 PREVENT FALLS:

When in the hospital and receiving medication or have had surgery, you may not be as steady as you normally are. Be sure to use your call bell to ask for assistance getting up unless the staff has instructed you that you can get up alone. An alarm may be placed on your chair or bed to help remind you to call for help. It will also alert the staff that you are getting up.

#6 SHARE YOUR HISTORY:

We want to know your health history before we prescribe anything or offer treatment. It is important to share any past or current health problems, all medications, latex and food allergies, and all past surgeries.

#7 GOING HOME:

Taking care of yourself after you leave the hospital is a crucial part of your recovery. Ask your caregiver what to expect and how to take good care of yourself after discharge, including when and how to take medication and what symptoms to report to your doctor. A trusted family member or a friend can help you with this information if you give us permission to talk with them.

#8 REPORT PROBLEMS:

If there is anything about your hospital visit that is concerning you, please talk to your care provider or the unit manager. If any care issues are still not resolved, please contact the Patient Care Review Office at 376-5464 or after 4PM ask to speak with the Nursing Supervisor. You may also contact the New York State Department of Health at 1-800-804-5447 or the Joint Commission at 1-800-994-6610. The sooner you report a concern the quicker we can respond.

Please be involved in your care because you are the most important member of your health care team. Your safety and comfort while at our facility is our number one concern.

 

Help Prevent Infections

Avoiding contagious diseases like the common cold, strep throat, and the flu is important to everyone. Here are five easy things you can do to fight the spread of infection.

1. Clean your hands.

  • Use soap and warm water. Rub your hands really well for at least 15 seconds. Rub your palms, fingernails, in between your fingers, and the backs of your hands.
  • Or, 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.

2. Make sure health care providers clean their hands or wear gloves.

  • Doctors, nurses, dentists and other health care providers come into contact with lots of bacteria and viruses. So before they treat you, ask them if they've cleaned their hands.
  • Health care providers should wear clean gloves when they perform tasks such as taking throat cultures, pulling teeth, taking blood, touching wounds or bodily fluids, and examining your mouth or private parts. Don't be afraid to ask them if they should wear gloves.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.

Many diseases are spread through sneezes and coughs. When you sneeze or cough, the germs can travel three 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 any used tissues and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • 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, clean them right away.

4. If you are sick, avoid close contact with others.

  • If you are sick, stay away from other people or stay at home. Don't shake hands or touch others.
  • 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.

5. Get shots to avoid disease and fight the spread of infection.

Make sure that your vaccinations are current - even for adults. Check with your doctor about shots you may need. Vaccinations are available to prevent these diseases.

  • Chicken pox
  • Measles
  • Tetanus
  • Shingles
  • Flu (also known as influenza)
  • Whooping cough (also known as Pertussis)
  • German measles (also known as Rubella)
  • Pneumonia (Streptococcus pneumoniae)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Mumps
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis
  • Meningitis

 

Avoid Surgical Mistakes

Preparing For Your Surgery

Ask Your Doctor:

Are there any prescription or over-the-counter medicines that you should not take before your surgery? Can you eat or drink before your surgery? Should you trim your nails and remove any nail polish? If you have other questions, write them down. Take your list of questions with you when you see your doctor.

Ask Someone You Trust To:

Take you to and from the surgery facility and be with you at the hospital or surgery facility. This person can make sure you get the care you need to feel comfortable and safe.

Before You Leave Home:

Shower and wash your hair. Do not wear make-up. Your caregivers need to see your skin to check your blood circulation. Leave your jewelry, money and other valuables at home.

At The Surgery Facility

The staff will ask you to sign an Informed Consent form. Read it carefully. It lists:

Your name, the kind of surgery you will have, the risks of your surgery, and that you talked to your doctor about the surgery and asked questions. It also lists your agreement to have the surgery. Make sure everything on the form is correct. Make sure all of your questions have been answered. If you do not understand something on the form, speak up.

For your safety, the staff may ask you the same question many times. They will ask:

Who you are, what kind of surgery you are having, and the part of your body to be operated on. They will also double-check the records from your doctor's office.

Before Your Surgery

A health care professional will mark the spot on your body to be operated on. Make sure they mark only the correct part and nowhere else. This helps avoid mistakes. Marking usually happens when you are awake. Sometimes you cannot be awake for the marking. If this happens, a family member or friend or another health care worker can watch the marking. They can make sure that your correct body part is marked. Your neck, upper back or lower back will be marked if you are having spine surgery. The surgeon will check the exact place on your spine in the operating room after you are asleep. Ask your surgeon if they will take a "time out" just before your surgery. This is done to make sure they are doing the right surgery on the right body part on the right person.

After Your Surgery

Tell your doctor or nurse about your pain. Hospitals and other surgical facilities that are accredited by The Joint Commission must help relieve your pain. Ask questions about medicines that are given to you, especially new medicines. What is it? What is it for? Are there any side effects? Tell your caregivers about any allergies you have to medicines. If you have more questions about a medicine, talk to your doctor or nurse before taking it. Find out about any IV (intravenous) fluids that you are given. These are liquids that drip from a bag into your vein. Ask how long the liquid should take to "run out." Tell the nurse if it seems to be dripping too fast or too slow. Ask your doctor if you will need therapy or medicines after you leave the hospital. Ask when you can resume activities like work, exercise and travel.

 

Avoid Medication Mistakes

Who is responsible for your medicines?

A lot of people - including you! Doctors check all of your medicines to make sure they are OK to take together. They will also check your vitamins, herbs, diet supplements or natural remedies. Pharmacists will check your new medicines to see if there are other medicines, foods or drinks you should not take with your new medicines. This helps to avoid a bad reaction. Nurses and other caregivers may prepare medicines or give them to you. You need to give your doctors, pharmacists and other caregivers a list of your medicines. This list should have your prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines (for example, aspirin), vitamins, herbs, diet supplements, natural remedies, the amount of alcohol you drink each day or week and recreational drugs.

What should you know about your medicines?

Make sure you can read the handwriting on the prescription. If you can't read it, the pharmacist may not be able to read it either. You can ask to have the prescription printed. Read the label. Make sure it has your name on it and the right medicine name. Make sure you understand all of the instructions for your medicines. If you have doubts about a medicine, ask your doctor, pharmacist or caregiver about it.

What if you forgot the instructions for taking a medicine or are not sure about taking it?

Call your doctor or pharmacist. Don't be afraid to ask questions about any of your medicines.

What can you do at the hospital or clinic to help avoid mistakes with your medicines?

Make sure your doctors, nurses and other caregivers check your wristband and ask your name before giving you medicine. Some patients get a medicine that was supposed to go to another patient. Don't be afraid to tell a caregiver if you think you are about to get the wrong medicine. Know what time you should get a medicine. If you don't get it, then speak up. Tell your caregiver if you don't feel well after taking a medicine. Ask for help immediately if you think you are having a side effect or reaction. You may be given IV (intravenous) fluids. Read the bag to find out what is in it. Ask the caregiver how long it should take for the liquid to run out. Tell the caregiver if it's dripping too fast or too slow. Get a list of all your medicines - including your new ones. Read the list carefully. Make sure it lists everything you are taking. If you're not well enough to do this, ask a friend or relative to help.

Questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist:

How will this new medicine help you? Are there other names for this medicine? For example, does it have a brand or generic name? Is there any written information about the medicine? Can you take this medicine with your allergy? Remind your doctor about your allergies and reactions you have had to medicines. Is it safe to take this medicine with your other medicines? Is it safe to take it with your vitamins, herbs and other supplements? Are there any side effects of the medicine? For example, upset stomach. Who can you call if you have side effects or a bad reaction? Can they be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Are there specific instructions for your medicines? For example, are there any foods or drinks you should avoid while taking it? Can you stop taking the medicine as soon as you feel better? Or do you need to take it until it's gone? Do you need to swallow or chew the medicine? Can you cut or crush it if you need to? Is it safe to drink alcohol with the medicine?

SPEAK UP™ From The Joint Commission

Facts about Speak Up™ Initiatives:

In March 2002, The Joint Commission, together with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, launched a national campaign to urge patients to take a role in preventing health care errors by becoming active, involved and informed participants on the health care team. The program features brochures, posters and buttons on a variety of patient safety topics. Speak Up™ encourages the public to: Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you still don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know. Pay attention to the care you get. Always make sure you're getting the right treatments and medicines by the right health care professionals. Don't assume anything. Educate yourself about your illness. Learn about the medical tests you get, and your treatment plan. Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate (advisor or supporter). Know what medicines you take and why you take them. Medicine errors are the most common health care mistakes. Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has been carefully checked out. For example, The Joint Commission visits hospitals to see if they are meeting The Joint Commission's quality standards. Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team. www.jointcommission.org