10 Tips Patients Can Do to Make Your Hospital Stay Safer

By Catherine Bertram

According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, these ten tips are actions patients and their families can do during hospital stays to try to make their hospital stay safer:

  1. "SPEAK UP"
    Talk to your doctor about any worries you have about your safety and ask them what they are doing to protect you.
  2. "KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN"
    If you do not see your healthcare providers wash their hands, please ask them to do so. Also remind your loved ones and visitors. Washing hands can prevent the spread of germs.
  3. Ask if you still need a central line Adobe PDF file [PDF - 191KB] catheter or urinary Adobe PDF file [PDF - 226KB] catheter. Leaving a catheter in place too long increases the chances of getting an infection. Let your doctor or nurse know if the area around the central line becomes sore or red, or if the bandage falls off or looks wet or dirty.
  4. ASK YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER "Will there be a new needle, new syringe, and a new vial for this procedure or injection?" Healthcare providers should never reuse a needle or syringe on more than one patient.
  5. BE CAREFUL WITH MEDICATIONS
    Avoid taking too much medicine by following package directions. Also, to avoid harmful drug interactions, tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking.
  6. Photo: A healthcare professional preparing to vaccinate a patient.GET SMART WITH ANTIBIOTICS
    Help prevent antibiotic resistance by taking all your antibiotics as prescribed, and not sharing your antibiotics with other people. Remember that antibiotics don't work against viruses like the ones that cause the common cold.
  7. Prepare for surgery Adobe PDF file [PDF - 207KB].
    There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting a surgical site infection. Talk to your doctor to learn what you should do to prepare for surgery. Let your doctor know about other medical problems you have.
  8. Watch out for C. diff. Adobe PDF file [PDF - 179KB] (aka Clostridium difficile)
    Tell your doctor if you have severe diarrhea, especially if you are also taking an antibiotic.
  9. Know the signs and symptoms of infection.
    Some skin infections, such as MRSA, appear as redness, pain, or drainage at an IV catheter site or surgical incision site. Often these symptoms come with a fever. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms.
  10. GET YOUR FLU SHOT
    Protect yourself against the flu and other complications by getting vaccinated."

By following these 10 steps, you can help make healthcare safer and help prevent healthcare-associated infections.

 

About the author:

Catherine Bertram is board certified in civil trials.  She has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in DC for Medlcal Malpractice.   Ms. Bertram has over 20 years of trial experience and is unique in that she was formerly the Director of Risk Management for Georgetown University Hospital.  Ms. Bertram is a member of the bar for the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ms. Bertram is a partner with the firm and she lives in Washington, DC with her family   She can be reached by email at cbertram@reganfirm.com or by phone 202-822-1875 in her office in Washington, D.C