HealthCommentary

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Don’t go to the Hospital Without these Ten Safety Tips

Posted on | October 28, 2008 | No Comments

A trusted family member or friend should be your advocate

Heading to the hospital?  Don’t go alone.  Knowing exactly what’s going on with your care is critical. Medical mistakes unfortunately do happen in hospitals and shockingly, it is reported that 238,337 patients died from potentially preventable medical errors during 2004 through 2006, according to HealthGrades’ fifth annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study. The good news is that you can be proactive in your health and help eliminate these medical mistakes.

In a recent article on Forbes.com the authors talk about “Scariest Hospital Risks,” but the information is rather stale, a little choppy and it truly doesn’t provide information that can be helpful to the reader.  The article seems to blame surgeons for the overcrowding issue and it also blames doctors for not washing their hands.  The latter refers to a study, but the article doesn’t provide any information regarding the study and more importantly it doesn’t let you know what you can do to stay safe.

Let me move on and break this very frightening topic down.  Here are some simple medical insider  tips that could help you stay safe and alive! 

1. Germs, germs are everywhere! Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing!  Hand washing is the single most effective way to keep germs at bay.  Washing your hands for 30 seconds with warm soapy water will do the trick.  If a sink isn’t nearby, alcohol based hand sanitizers work great.  In fact, some hospitals even make hand dispensers avaiable not only by each patient’s room door, but inside each room.  Make sure you ask anyone that comes in contact with you if they have clean hands.  It’s okay to ask them if they’ve washed their hands.  It’s not rude, you’re not being obsessive, you are keeping yourself safe and alive.  You do not want any infections.

2.  Always be proactive in your health. Take charge and be aware of your surroundings and know everything that is taking place.         

3.  Always ask questions.  Never feel intimidated to do so.

4.  Make sure you understand your diagnosis and the exact plan of care.

5.  As a patient in the hospital, if you need assistance, ASK!  This will help keep you safe.  You do not want to fall and get injured.

6.  Know your “Patient Bill of Rights.”

7. If you are scheduled for surgery:

  • Make sure you understand EXACTLY what’s involved.
  • Make sure you go over with the surgeon the area of your body that is involved.
  • Make sure the appropriate area is clearly marked!!
  • Remember to ask questions!

8.  Understand the medications that are ordered for you in the hospital.  When the nurse administers your medication, make sure you understand what it is for and if there are any side effects. Also, make sure your nurse identifies you as the correct patient before any medications are administered. Before administering any medications the nurse should perform five checks:  Right Patient, Right Drug, Right Dose, Right Route, and Right Time.

9.  Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.  The hospital can be very overwhelming and frightening.  Having a loved one with you can help ease the chaos and help you get the care you need. 

10. Know what’s going on.  It’s your right.

It is critical that you always speak up and ask questions, and to know exactly what’s involved in your care.  Be in charge of your own health.  Make your next hospital experience a safe one and move on to enjoy every day!

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