Stay Safe When You’re In the Hospital

Be actively involved in care decisions and take extra safety measures to avoid infection when in a hospital. Doing so can help keep you and your family safe, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says.

Avoid infection

Hospital-associated infections are common in patients who have had major surgery, are on kidney dialysis, or have immune systems weakened by illness or medication.

Here's how to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands frequently if you’re a patient or are visiting someone in the hospital. Use warm water and soap to wash. Keep washing for about 20 seconds. You also can use antimicrobial lotions or gels.

  • Insist that health care workers wash their hands in front of you.

  • Before you check into a hospital for a procedure, discuss with your surgeon the steps that will be taken to protect you from hospital-associated infections.

Prevent errors

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

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns.

  • Make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medication. If you’re having surgery, for example, ask the health care provider to mark the area that’s to be operated on. This way there will be no confusion.

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

  • Ask a family member or friend to be your support to help you monitor your care. This is especially needed if you’re heavily medicated or sedated.

  • Participate in and be informed about all decisions regarding your treatment. You and your health care provider should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of your care.