Twelve Steps to a Safer Hospital Stay

  • Be your own advocate and ask questions. Make sure you understand the purpose of a treatment or medication.
  • Make sure that every health care professional involved in your care has your important health information. Do not assume that everyone knows everything.
  • Bring someone with you as a second pair of eyes and ears. They may be able to remember things you don't and they can monitor your care while you're under the effects of anesthesia.
  • If you have a test, do not assume that no news is good news. Ask about the results. Make sure your doctor knows about every medication you are taking including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
  • When your doctor writes you a prescription, ask that the purpose for the medication be included and make sure you can read it.
  • Double-check that you have the correct medication when you pick up your prescription at the pharmacy.
  • If you need surgery, choose a hospital where the procedure or surgery is performed on many patients.
  • During a hospital stay, make sure everyone who tries to give you medications checks your hospital ID bracelet every time.
  • Check your health care professional's fingernails. It's a good sign of his or her cleanliness. Don't be embarrassed to ask them to wash their hands before they touch you.
  • If you are having surgery, make sure that you and the health care professionals treating you all agree and are clear on what exactly will be done.

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