Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 3-9: Know How to Get Safe & Sound Hospital Care
Thanks to a wealth of great medical websites, we’ve never been more knowledgeable about our health conditions and treatment choices.
However, we are much less knowledgeable about common hazards in hospital care known as “HACs”, short for Hospital Acquired Conditions.
National Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 3- 9 shines a light on these hazards and how to prevent them. Most hospitals set this week aside for special training for doctors and nurses, and they reach out to their local communities with education events.
Here’s a good example: you’ve probably heard about the most common kind of HAC, infections like staph, MRSA and C. diff. Patient Safety Awareness Week helps hospitals spread the message that the #1 way to prevent infections is quite simple:
- Always wash your hands with good old-fashioned warm, soapy water before you ever touch a patient!
Patient Safety Awareness Week focuses on falls, too. Most of us associate falls with frail, elderly patients – but they’re common among hospital patients of all ages. Every patient is in an unfamiliar environment, and usually weak from illness, or woozy from medication. Again, the Patient Safety message is that preventing falls is really simple:
- Make sure every patient a three-pronged cane or a willing arm to prevent dangerous spills.
Other common hospital conditions include pneumonia, urinary tract infections, blood clots and bedsores. (Bed rest causes many of these problems!) Patient Safety Awareness Week focuses on medication mix-ups, too, which occur fairly often in the bustle of hospital care.
- It’s always OK to ask nurses to double-check medications before giving.
So, what else can you do, now that you know more about HACs? Fortunately, patient safety has come to the forefront of medicine and there are several new websites to help you.
Try to choose a hospital rated highly on safety, with a low HAC rate. Sift through these resources, talk to your doctor about them, and decide what’s right for you.
Always bring a friend or family member as your Care Partner. Patients forget about 80& of what their doctors and nurses tell them. For additional help, you may want to consider talking to a professional patient advocate who can help support your care in a wide variety of ways. A highly reputable resource for patient advocates in the New Jersey area is Lorie Gardner RN BSN of Healthlink Advocates in Chatham.
Bring a notebook and checklists. Safe hospitals use checklists, and now patients have safety checklists too. Patient safety leaders endorse these two resources:
When you have your hospital checklists, you’ll know what to look for, what to do, and what to say to prevent hospital conditions – and everyone will appreciate your help!
Patient safety is a team effort – every single week of the year.