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Stay Safe When You’re in the Hospital

Take an active part in your care decisions while you are in the hospital. Also take extra safety measures to not get an infection when in the hospital. Doing so can help keep you and your family safe.

Prevent infection

Hospital-associated infections are common in people who have had major surgery. They are also common for people on kidney dialysis or who have an immune system weakened by illness or medicine.

Here's how to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often if you’re a patient or are visiting someone in the hospital. Use clean, running water and soap to wash. Keep washing for about 20 seconds. You also can use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

  • Insist that healthcare workers wash their hands in front of you. Don't hesitate to do this and encourage family members to do the same if you are unable to speak due to sedation.

  • Before you check into a hospital for a procedure, talk with your surgeon about the steps that will be taken to protect you from any infections while you are in the hospital. Ask if it's safe for you to have your procedure, or if it would be better to perform the surgery later or in an outpatient setting.

Prevent errors

Accidental deaths occur when people are given the wrong medicines or the right medicines in the wrong doses. The following tips can help you prevent medical errors and stay safe:

  • Speak up about your care and whenever you have questions or concerns.

  • Ask a family member or friend to be your advocate to help monitor your care. This is important if you’re really sick or heavily medicated or sedated.

  • When you are given medicines, have the nurse show you which medicines are being given and explain why they are being used.

  • Make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medicine. For example, if you’re having surgery, ask the healthcare provider to mark the area that’s to be operated on. This way there will be no confusion.

  • Make sure every nurse and healthcare provider confirms your identity by checking your wristband before he or she gives you any medicines.

  • Take part in and learn about all decisions regarding your treatment. Be especially careful when reading informed consent forms. Have all of your questions answered before you sign anything. You and your healthcare provider should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of your care.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2021
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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