Patient and Family Involvement
Safety tips and tools for patients
As our patient, you are the most important member of the health care team. You can make your care safer by being an active, involved and informed member of the team.
Research shows that patients who take part in decisions about their own healthcare are more likely to get better faster.
Patient safety begins with you
We encourage you to follow The Joint Commission Speak Up™ patient safety program:
State questions and concerns
- If you do not understand, ask us to explain it another way.
- If you do not understand because you speak another language, ask for someone who speaks your language.
- Do not be afraid to ask about your safety.
Pay attention to the care you are receiving
- Make sure you are getting the right treatments and medications from the right health care providers—do not assume.
- Tell your nurse or doctor if something does not seem right to you.
Expect your healthcare team to introduce themselves and always wear their ID badges.
- Make sure your healthcare providers check your wrist band before administering any test or medication.
Educate yourself about your conditions, treatments and any medical tests you will be getting
- Write down information that your doctor tells you, and ask your doctor if he or she has any written information or pamphlets you can keep.
- Read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign them—ask your doctor or nurse to explain again in another way or using plain language if you do not understand.
- Make sure all of your questions are answered.
Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate (advisor or supporter)
- Your advocate can ask questions you may not think of when you are stressed or sick.
- Ask your advocate to stay with you as much as possible so they can SPEAK UP for you if you cannot.
- Make sure your advocate understands the care you want and what is important to you.
- Make sure your advocate understands the care you will need when you get home, as well as what to look for if your condition gets worse.
Know what medications you take and why you take them
- Ask why you are taking a medicine, its brand and generic names, and for written information.
- Ask about the side effects of all medicines.
- If you take many medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take them together (including vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs.
- If you do not recognize a medication, SPEAK UP and make sure it is intended for you.
- Carry an up-to-date list of the medicines you are taking and write down how much you take and when you take it, in order to go over the list with your doctor and other caregivers.
Use a health care organization that has been carefully checked out
Participate in all decisions about your treatment
- You and your doctor should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of your care.
- Keep copies of your medical records from other hospitalizations and share them with your caregivers, in order to give them better information about your health history.
- Do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion—your doctors will support your request because the more information you have about all the kinds of treatment available to you, the better you will feel about the decisions made.
- Talk to your doctor and your family about your wishes regarding resuscitation and other life-saving actions.
Preventing patient falls
Patient falls during hospitalization are a leading cause of injury each year. Here are some things you can do to prevent falls while you're hospitalized:
- Keep the things you use often within easy reach
- With the nurse present, practice using the call bell before you really need it and do not be afraid to use it when you do
- Know how to turn the light on and off from your bed
- Do not get up on your own, even to use the bathroom—call someone for assistance
- Sit up slowly and with help
- Do not try to move IV poles or other equipment on your own
- Use your walking aid as instructed by the staff
- Be sure to use handrails in bathrooms and hallways
Hand hygiene: the #1 way to prevent infections
Keeping your hands clean is the best way to prevent getting or spreading germs that cause infection. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner and be sure to ask your health care provider to do so as well, if they do not as they enter and exit your room.
Wash your hands often, especially:
- After using the bathroom
- Before and after eating
- After coughing or sneezing
- After using a tissue
- After touching or changing a dressing or bandage
- After touching any object or surface that may be contaminated
Tips for good handwashing
- Use warm water and work up a good lather with plenty of soap
- Clean your whole hand, under your nails, between your fingers and up the wrists
- Scrub well for at least 20 seconds
- Rinse, letting the water run down your fingers, not up your wrists
- Dry your hands well and use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door
Hand washing with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs.
If you don't have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand gel containing at least 60 percent alcohol. These products kill most germs and are easy to use.
If your hands are visibly dirty, and after using the bathroom, use soap and water (not hand gel).
To help prevent the spread of infection, all EvergreenHealth employees wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner before and after treating each patient. We welcome you to ask staff members if they have properly cleansed their hands before caring for you or a loved one.
Rapid response process
If you are concerned about your or your loved one's condition, we have a process called a 'rapid response' that can be activated by dialing from any patient room and asking for a rapid response.
A team of clinical staff will be dispatched to the patient room to assess any concerns related to change condition or status, or emergent concerns about the plan of treatment or care.