Stay Safe

You can contribute to healthcare safety.

While you are in the hospital, many people will enter your room, from doctors and nurses to technologists and therapists. The following information will help make your hospital stay safe and comfortable.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask…

A number of people may enter your hospital room. Be sure to:

Ask for the ID of everyone who comes into your room.

Speak up if hospital staff doesn’t ask to check your ID.

Ask if the person has cleaned his or her hands before he or she touches you.

If you are told you need certain tests or procedures, ask why you need them, when they will happen, and how long it will be before you get the results.

Fighting Infections

While you’re in the hospital to get well, you should know that there is the possibility of developing an infection. The single most important thing you can do to help prevent infections is to clean your hands and make sure that everyone who touches you—including your doctors and nurses—has cleaned his or her hands too.

Happy Birthday to You!

Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Remember to turn off the faucet using a dry paper towel.

No Soap? No Problem!

Alcohol-based hand cleaners are as effective as soap and water in killing germs. To use, apply the cleaner to the palm of your hand and rub your hands together. Keep rubbing over all the surfaces of your fingers and hands until they are dry.

You, your family, and friends should clean hands:

1. when entering and before leaving the hospital room
2. after touching objects or surfaces in the hospital room
3. before eating
4. after using the restroom

It is also important that your healthcare providers clean their hands with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner every time, both before and after they touch you. Healthcare providers practice hand hygiene, but sometimes they forget. You and your family should not be afraid or embarrassed to speak up and ask them to clean their hands.

Preventing Infections

An additional way the hospital prevents infections is by screening you if you are at risk of having resistant organisms (MRSA, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria) at time of admission. Screening is done so that if you are found to have a resistant organism, you can be placed in isolation to prevent the spread of the resistant organism to other patients. Screening is done on patients:

  • with a history of having a resistant organism
  • for diarrhea and antibiotics within the prior three months
  • admitted to ICU/CCU/NICU
  • from a nursing home
  • discharged from the hospital within the previous 30 days
  • receiving dialysis while in the hospital
  • having a joint/prosthesis insertion surgery

You will be notified by your physician if the screening shows positive for the resistant organism and a nurse will provide you with educational materials.

Special Isolation Precautions

Some patients need special isolation precautions in addition to regular infection control practices. If an isolation precaution sign is posted at the entrance to your hospital room, anyone entering will be asked to follow the instructions on the sign. If your visitors have any questions about the precautions, they should check with a nurse at the nurses’ station before they enter your room.

Preventing Medication Errors

By taking part in your own care, you can help the members of your healthcare team avoid medication errors. Here’s how:

Be sure that all of your doctors know what medications you have been taking, including prescription drugs, over-the- counter medications, herbal and vitamin supplements, natural remedies, and recreational drugs.

Be sure that all of your doctors know about any allergies you may have—to medications, anesthesia, foods, latex products, etc.

When you are brought medications or IV fluids, ask the person to check to be sure you are the patient who is supposed to receive the medications. Show that person your ID bracelet to double-check. Remember—you play an important role in helping to reduce medication errors.

Know Your Meds

While you are hospitalized, your doctor may prescribe medications for you. Be sure that you understand exactly what they are and why they are being prescribed. Use this checklist to help you get the information you need from your doctor:

  • What is the name of the medicine? What is its generic name?
  • Why am I taking this medicine? 
  • What dose will I be taking?
  • How often, and for how long? 
  • What are the possible side effects? 
  • Can I take this medicine while taking my other medications or dietary supplements?
  • Are there any foods, drinks, or activities that I should avoid while taking this medicine?

Preventing Falls

Patients often fall because they are on medications that make them dizzy, they are weak and unsteady due to illness or medical procedures, or they have been sitting or lying down for too long. For your safety, please:

  • Always ask for assistance before getting out of bed.
  • Wear properly fitting shoes with nonskid soles.
  • Keep the call button within easy reach.
  • Have necessary items within reach, such as your glasses, tissues, the telephone, and anything else you need.
  • When you get assistance, rise slowly from your bed or chair to prevent dizziness.
  • Walk close to the wall and hold onto the handrail while in the bathroom.


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