Hospital Safety Tips

A recent study by Johns Hopkins University reported that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America. These errors lead to 250,000 deaths a year. We are not telling you this to warn you against going to the hospital; we just want to make sure you know to keep your eyes and ears open. To stay safe during your next trip to the hospital, check out these hospital safety tips and remember these three words: in no danger.

IN

I for Informed Consent

Question every test, surgery, or treatment doctors want you to undergo. Doctors and hospitals must get informed consent before they perform most procedures on you.

Make sure your doctor tells you why s/he wants you to have this procedure, test, surgery, etc. Make sure you know what your options are and whether there are any alternatives.

N for Names

Find out who will be taking care of you. This includes the doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel associated with your care.

After you get their names, make a point to meet them. It relieves your stress to be able to put a face with a name. You might also receive better care if they have met you. It helps them to see you as a person, not just a medical chart.

NO

N for Notes

Take careful notes about the medications doctors give you; make a note of the time of day you take them.

Make a list of all tests you undergo and the professionals who administered them. It is easy to forget details when you are disoriented from illness or medications.

O for Organized

Make sure you get organized before going to the hospital. Make a list of all medications you take, the dosage, and when you take them.

It is best to bring all your pill bottles along to the hospital. This includes over the counter medications and herbal preparations you regularly take.

In addition, make sure you also know all medications you are allergic to. Let your doctors and nurses know too.

DANGER

D for Daily Plan

Know your care plan each day. This will be useful for scheduling visitors and for making sure your care is on track.

For example, if you were supposed to go to physical therapy in the morning, but no one came by to pick you up, speak up. If not, you might have to stay in the hospital longer.

A for Ask Questions

Always ask questions. This goes along with informed consent. Do not just accept the treatment offered to you. Ask why the doctor wants you to have this one instead of a different one. Ask your doctor to compare the benefits and risks of the treatment options.

Be a part of the decision-making process.

Before you agree to take any medicine, find out what it is, why your doctor is prescribing it, what it is supposed to do for you, and how many doses you will be taking. Make sure you understand all common side effects. Ask if the medication is safe to take with the other medications or with certain food or drinks.

Do not trust that the doctor always knows what s/he is doing. If you are concerned about something, speak up; ask why it is happening.

N for Network

Know who the members of your medical care network are in case issues arise while you are in the hospital or after you go home.

Who should you call after hours? Who should you call if you suddenly have new symptoms or get worse? What should you do in an emergency?

Make sure you get names, phone numbers, and availability times.

G for Guard Yourself

You cannot count on anyone except yourself and perhaps a friend or family member who might be there to advocate for you. You have to be the one to tell the nurses if there is a problem.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, on the average day, at least 1 out of every 25 hospital patients has a health-care related infection. You do not want to be on that list.

You have to make sure everyone who comes into your room to have contact with you does proper hand washing. This applies to visitors as well as medical staff.

Look out for your own welfare.

E for End Game

Make certain that you are clear on why you are going to the hospital. Is it actually necessary to be hospitalized, or could the doctors perform the procedure on an outpatient basis? If hospitalization is truly necessary, find out how long you will be there.

This is not just to save you money or make things more convenient. A 2014 study from the University of South Carolina found that each day you spend in the hospital increases your infection risk one percent. The less time you spend in the hospital, the better.

R for Reinforcements

No matter how strong and independent you are, it is always good to have someone who can advocate for you while you are in the hospital. When you are a patient, you need to be able to focus on getting well. You do not need to devote energy or stress to dealing with problems.

In addition, you might be on certain medications that may confuse you or make it difficult to remember what your doctor says.

Carefully select someone you trust to advocate for you. Inform that person about your medical situation and the planned tests, treatments, and surgeries. Make sure that person knows the entire game plan and has your medication information, including medical allergies.

Give your advocate the names and contact information for all the people involved in your care. Sign an authorization form for that person to serve as your advocate.

Make sure the form is in your doctor’s medical file and in your hospital chart. Introduce your advocate to the doctors and nursing staff; make sure they realize this is the person authorized to advocate for you.

Call Us if You Are Injured at the Hospital

Following these tips can help you avoid many injuries in the hospital, but sometimes, no matter how careful you are, injuries happen.

If you suffered injury at the hospital through a medication error, infection, complication from a treatment or surgery, or by anything else that was not your fault, you need to have a caring, professional attorney on your side.

The medical malpractice lawyers at Cordisco & Saile, LLC have handled quite a few medical malpractice cases and can help you determine if you have one too. Call 215-642-2335 today to schedule your free consultation.