Ten Important Patient Safety Tips
Please read this with your family or support person.
1. Actively participate in your medical care and all decisions about your treatment. Ask for written information about your medical condition and treatment. Write down questions for your doctor or nurse. Ask questions to be sure you understand all the information you have been given.
2. Ask a family member or friend to be your advocate or "coach". Choose a trusted family member or friend to advise or support you. They can help ask questions for you if you cannot do so for yourself. They can help remember information you are given and learn how to help you care for yourself at home.
3. Read all medical forms carefully. Ask your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about the forms you are signing, such as consents for surgery. Get answers to your questions before you sign any forms. You have a right to know.
4. Make sure your health care provider checks your identity (ID). Your ID is the name on your ID band as well as your medical record number and/or date of birth. Your health care providers should verbally ask for two identifiers and check your ID band before giving you any medicine, drawing blood or sending you for tests, treatments or procedures. You will be asked the same questions many times. This is a safety measure.
5. Before your surgery or procedure, review the correct procedure and operation site with the staff. The staff will ask you to confirm your name, date of birth, and the surgery or procedure you are having before they begin. In some cases, your doctor will mark the spot on your body to be operated on. Make sure that your correct body part is marked. Ask your surgeon if there will be a "time out" just before your surgery. This is done to make sure the surgeon is doing the right surgery on the right body part on the right person.
6. Prevent falls in your hospital room for safety:
- Your safety is very important.
- Staff will make sure your call light is in reach before they leave your room.
- Please use your call light for assistance to get out of bed.
- Do not get out of bed without help from staff if you feel weak or dizzy.
- Sitting up in bed, slowly sitting on the edge of your bed and taking deep breaths for a few minutes before standing up can help prevent dizziness.
- Wear non skid slippers or shoes when up. If you do not have any please ask and we will provide a pair.
7. Wash your hands early and often. Hand washing is the #1 method to prevent infections.
- Wash your hands after using the bathroom, before eating, and after you cough or sneeze.
- Always wash your hands before and after touching your surgical site or changing your dressing to help prevent surgical site infections. Your health care providers wash their hands or use the alcohol hand gel before and after your care.
- Speak up if you feel that your care providers are not washing their hands!
8. Learn about medication safety.
- Bring a list of all of your medicines to your doctor's appointments and to the hospital. Include vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter medicines you take. Keep a record of vaccines you have had. Do not bring your medicines to the hospital unless your doctor tells you to do so.
- Understand your medicines. Make sure you know which medicines you take, why you take them, and their dosage and timing instructions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medicine instructions. When you get a new prescription, make sure you know what the medicine is for and any possible side effects.
- Recognize your medicines: Tell your nurse right away if you notice the color, the label on the medicine, the dose, or the timing of your medicine is different than at home.
- Tell your doctor/nurses about any allergies or side effects to medicines you have had in the past. If you feel suddenly short of breath, have a rash, hives or an itching sensation, tell your nurse right away. You may be allergic to a medicine.
- Before you leave the hospital, you will get a copy of your Medication List from your nurse. This list should match the instructions your doctor has given you about your medicines.
9. Learn about different types of pain medication. In the hospital, you may be given medication for pain that you take by mouth or receive through your vein. Occasionally pain is managed with a PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) pump that is attached to an intravenous (IV) line. This allows you to manage your own pain by pushing a button which delivers a set amount of pain medicine through the IV.
10. Speak up if you have questions or concerns about patient safety. Call the Patient Relations/Risk Management Department at ABSMC. For the Summit Campus call (510) 869-6198, for the Alta Bates Campus call (510) 204-4689. For information on the web, visit: