In honor of National Patient Safety Awareness Week the filmmakers who created the video/DVD, “Things You Should Know Before Entering the Hospital” are sharing 16 tips to stay safe while in the hospital. These tips come in response to the Journal of the American Medical Association reporting that 98,000 people die each year because of medical errors in the hospital. That’s more deaths than from AIDS, breast cancer and car accidents. Reports from the CDC estimate that as many as two million patients contract an infection from U.S. hospitals or medical centers each year accounting for 90,000 deaths.
“Human error is a fact in healthcare just as in the rest of life, and we all must be educated on what to be watchful of regarding things that might go wrong,” said Martin J. Hatlie, Esq., President of Partnership for Patient Safety.
1. Secure advocates, friends and family members to be with you 24 hours a day. When checking into the hospital, be sure to have your advocate/s sign the paperwork that gives them legal permission to know all the details about your treatment. Advocates must be able to ask questions on your behalf. Advocates will need assertiveness training so have them watch this program to ensure they’re not intimidated by hospital personnel.
2. If your advocate is not available in an emergency, do not delay treatment.
3. Make sure your advocate speaks both your language and that of the hospital staff. If not, bring a translator.
4. Select a hospital where your procedure or surgery is done often.
5. Ask your doctor how many times they’ve performed the procedure. Make sure he or she will be doing the procedure themselves.
6. Before you check into the hospital, make sure your doctor knows about any allergy and pre-existing condition, such as high blood pressure, depression or adverse reactions to other medications.
7. Bring a list of all your medications and supplements. Like prescription, over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, vitamins and herbs. Make sure your doctor and advocate know everything you’re taking.
8. Each time a nurse brings you medication, ask seven important questions:
1. What is this medicine for?
2. Who prescribed it?
3. When am I supposed to take it?
4. How am I supposed to take it… how often, for how long?
5. What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
6. Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements?
7. What food, drink or activities should I avoid while on this medicine?
9. When you get a prescription, make sure you can read it. If you can’t, your pharmacist might not be able to either and give you the wrong meds.
10. Hospital procedures should require checking each patient’s wrist-band before drawing blood or giving medication. Check all food and medication to make sure you’re not allergic to them.
11. Make sure the hospital staff keeps things clean around you. It is absolutely critical to avoid infections. If anything falls on the floor, just leave it there for the hospital personnel to pick it up. Be sure that nobody gives it to you – or puts it on your body.
12. It’s been estimated that about 76 million food borne illnesses occur each year in America and result in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Government statistics indicate that at least 25% of these illnesses are due to improper hand washing so make sure everyone who treats you or handles your food washes their hands thoroughly. Even if you don’t have a sink in your room, don’t be afraid to ask everyone coming into your room to wash their hands.
13. Schedule surgical procedures for early in the morning. If possible don’t schedule procedures for a Monday or Tuesday. Procedures can be bumped or delayed on Mondays due to weekend traumas and, if you are operated on Friday, you will only have the week-end staff to care for you.
14. Get all pre-operative instructions several days prior to your procedure.
15. Avoid wrong site surgery. The Joint Commission requires surgeons to sign their initials directly on the part of your body to be operated on prior to surgery. It’s called site verification so make sure your advocate is there to make the surgeon do this.
16. Don’t leave the hospital until you and your advocate know your home treatment plan, your medications, follow-up doctor visits and when you can return to regular activities.