Staying Safe During Your Hospital Stay

The most important way you can contribute to your safety during your visit to or stay at a Valley Health System hospital is to be an active member of your healthcare team. That means taking part in every decision about your healthcare. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your care so that you may fully understand your treatment plan.

Learn about the Joint Commission's Speak Up™ patient safety program, which encourages patients to play an active role in their hospital care

Medication Safety

The following may help reduce medication side effects:

  • At least once a year, bring all of your medicines and supplements with you to your doctor. “Brown bagging” your medicines can help you and your doctor talk about them and find out if there are any problems. It can also help your doctor keep your records up to date, which can help you get better quality care.
  • Tell your doctors and nurses about any allergies and adverse reactions you have to medicines, such as “I have a penicillin allergy, it gives me a rash.” This can help you avoid getting a medicine that can harm you.
  • Ask your doctor and nurse about your medicines in terms you can understand.
    • What is the name of my medication?
    • What is the medicine for?
    • How am I supposed to take it, and for how long?
    • What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
    • Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
    • What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?

Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause, both mild and serious. If serious side effects occur, contact your doctor right away.

Infection Control

Infections can occur after many types of medical procedures. This is particularly true if you have surgery. There are several things you can do to help prevent infections from developing in the hospital:

  • Wash your hands carefully after handling any type of soiled material. This is especially important after you have gone to the bathroom.
  • Since you are part of your healthcare team, do not be afraid to remind doctors and nurses about washing their hands before working with you.
  • If you have an intravenous catheter, keep the skin around the dressing clean and dry. Tell your nurse promptly if the dressing gets loose or wet.
  • Likewise, if you have a dressing on a wound, let your nurse know promptly if it gets loose or wet.
  • If you have any type of catheter or drainage tube, let your nurse know promptly if it becomes loose or dislodged.
  • If you have diabetes, be sure that you and your doctor discuss the best way to control your blood sugar before, during, and after your hospital stay. High blood sugar increases the risk of infection.
  • If possible, ask your friends and relatives not to visit you if they themselves feel ill.
  • Take antibiotics exactly as instructed. Do not stop taking them without checking with your physician. Don’t insist that your physician give you antibiotics if he or she says you don’t need them. Antibiotics have no effect on illnesses caused by viruses and taking them unncessarily can lead to your developing resistance to antibiotics.
  • Follow isolation guidelines. Ask your doctor or nurse to explain why isolation precautions may be necessary.

Surgical Safety

You, your doctor and the nurse must all agree and all be clear on exactly what surgery will be done. For example: You may be asked several times to identify what surgery you are having and if it is on the left or right side. Make sure to clearly say what surgery you will be having, and on what side, if applicable.

Here are some other potential ways to stay safe before and after surgery:

  • Follow your nurses’ instructions after surgery to prevent such events as urinary tract infections, lung infections and blood clots.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight before surgery will reduce the risk of infection following surgery.
  • If you are a smoker, consider a smoking cessation program. This will reduce the chance of developing an infection while in the hospital and may also improve your healing abilities following surgery.
  • Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions regarding breathing treatments and getting out of bed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice or sufficient pain medications.

Fall Precautions

  • Call the nurse or aide if you need to use the bathroom and feel shaky or weak.
  • Ask family or a friend to stay with you during your stay, if possible.
  • Wear non-slip or rubber-soled shoes or slippers.

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