When you or a family member are a patient in a hospital, you expect to receive excellent and safe care. At Women & Infants, we are committed to providing that care for you. Please help us in making sure that your health care needs are met, and let us know when they are not. You are a very important member of the health care team. Working together, we can help make sure you have the best possible hospital stay.
Making your visit safe
Your safety at the hospital is our foremost priority. The following are a few of the many steps we take to make sure you receive safe, dependable care while you are at Women & Infants:
What can you do to help?
- We have a patient safety committee that reviews any safety concern brought up by patients, family members or staff. The committee reviews each safety issue and develops steps to make our hospital a safe place to receive care.
- All physicians and nurses at Women & Infants are licensed and participate in continuing education.
- To avoid surgical or medication errors, we use two patient identifications before taking blood, giving medications, or giving blood products to ensure the correct test or medication is being done/given.
- Before a surgical procedure is started, there is a "time out." During the time out, the patient, procedure and site are all verified before the surgery proceeds.
We encourage and support open communication among you, your family and your health care team. We want you, your family or friends to speak with us if there is a safety concern. It often helps to have a family member or friend with you who can be an advocate for you.
- Make sure health care providers know your health history.
- Ask questions.
- Remind health care providers to confirm your identity before starting treatment or administering medication.
- Join in the decision-making about your health care.
- Challenge any of your health care providers if you disagree with or are concerned about the course of your treatment or the care you are receiving.
- Be assertive to be sure that all of your needs are met. Professional, confident caregivers will appreciate and understand your need to know.
Medications are a part of almost every hospital stay and often when you go home, too. But medication errors are the most common errors made in health care. It is important that you understand what medications you take and why you take them. Here are some tips from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO):
Be an active member of your health care team
- Ask what the medication is for. Ask for written information about the medicine including brand and generic names, and side effects. If you do not recognize the medicine, tell the nurse. Ask about oral medicine before you swallow it, and read the label on the intravenous (IV) fluids. If you are not well enough to do this, ask a trusted family member or friend to help you.
- If you are given an IV, ask the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to "run out." Tell the nurse if it doesn't seem to be dripping right (too fast or too slow).
- When you are going to get a new medication, tell your doctor and nurses about allergies you have or negative reactions you have had to medications in the past.
- If you are taking more than one medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take those medicines together. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter drugs, too.
The most important way you can help prevent medical errors is to be an active, informed member of the health care team. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Seek information about the illness or condition you have, and get more than one opinion about treatment.
- Washing hands - Patients, family and staff should wash their hands before caring for you to prevent the spread of infection. If they do not, remind them to stop and wash their hands before touching you. If you have a newborn, everyone should be reminded to wash their hands before touching your baby.
- Food – Some foods can make you sicker. Know what foods your doctor does not want you to eat.
- Treatment plan - Make sure you understand the plan of treatment. Ask the nurse or doctor to explain any tests that have been ordered. Ask questions if anything is not clear.
- Instructions - Be sure you receive all instructions verbally and in writing, and that you can read and understand them. Ask questions about any instructions that are confusing or unclear.
- Safety concerns - Discuss any concerns about your safety with your doctor or nurse.
- Take notes - We encourage you, a family member or a friend to take notes so you will remember what your doctor has told you, and so you can write down any thoughts or questions you may want to ask your nurse or doctor.
- Know whom to call and their telephone number, if you have questions once you are at home.
- Know what warning signs to watch for and when you should call.
If you need to have tests or need a follow-up appointment, know who to call and when to schedule this follow-up.
- If you need to get a prescription filled, make sure that you have the prescription, that you can read it, that you know what it is for, and when to start taking it. If you cannot read it, the pharmacist may not be able to either.
Ask about your activity: bathing, walking, diet, driving, returning to work.
At Women & Infants Hospital, patient safety comes first. By becoming an informed, involved member of the health care team, you can help prevent medical errors. You have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care. Ask to speak with the supervisor if you have any questions or concerns.
For more information
If you have any questions about patient safety at Women & Infants, please call Mary Dowd Struck, RN, MS, CNM, senior vice president for patient care, at 401-274-1122, extension 1107, or the Patient Safety Hot Line at 401-274-1122, extension 4111.