What You Can Do to Prevent ErrorsAndy North
What You Can Do to Prevent Errors
Medication safety improvement is a top priority for hospitals. You and your family can play a role in helping hospitals improve on medication safety. To prepare for your hospital stay, be sure to:
- Bring all the medicines you are currently taking so that your health care team can review them, including over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies.
- Make sure your care team knows about any allergies to medications.
- Know what conditions your medicines treat. It is helpful to know both the clinical and common name for your condition(s).
- Some discomfort can be expected, but it is important to let someone know about an unexpected response to medication, which could help flag a potential problem or error in your care.
- Make sure your care team checks your hospital wristband before giving you medication.
- Remember that some of the same drugs have different names, while some drugs have similar names but are different. Having a printed, legible list of your medications that includes generic and brand names is helpful in sorting this out.
Falls in hospitals are a significant problem and patients of all ages are vulnerable to them. Falls often happen when patients who shouldn’t move by themselves try to get up to use the restroom. If you need to get out of bed, you should:
- Use your call button to ask for help in getting to the restroom or to walk around the hallway
- Wear non-slip socks or footwear that fit well
- Lower the bed height and side rails
- Talk to your health care team if your medicine makes you feel unsteady or dizzy
Helping Hospitalized Family Members
As a family member or loved one of a hospitalized patient, you are an integral member of the health care team. The more informed you are about their care, the better! Here’s what to do:
- Be present for rounds, shift changes and any major conferences with the care team and take notes. If you are not invited, ask when these events are likely to happen.
- When the patient is recovering from surgery, request that you or another trusted family member stay overnight.
- Arrange with other loved ones to tag team staying with the patient. If you are exhausted, you will not be as helpful as another, well-rested family member. Let the care team know who will be there in your place, especially if the person is staying overnight.
Talking with Your Doctor about Safety
As the patient, you are part of the health care team. It’s important that you prepared, listen carefully, and speak up when you need to. To help make your care experience as safe as possible be prepared. Before your visit, think about and write down any questions you may have. Ask questions when you are unsure of what you are being told, or when some something unexpected happens. Be alert and say something. During your stay, you or a companion should take notes to keep track of what’s happening.
What is a Patient Advocate and Why Should I Have One?
When you are a patient, it is a good idea to have a designated person who can help you manage your care. A patient or health care advocate watches out for you while you are in the hospital. This allows you to focus on recovering and reduces the stress felt by your family members, allowing them to offer their full support. Talk to your doctor to see if your hospital has a patient advocate.