Saint Alphonsus Health System
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Patient Safety

Your Safety, Our First Concern

At Saint Alphonsus, providing high quality care and patient safety is at the core of our mission to improve the health of our community. Patient safety is improved when patients and their families become active participants in the healthcare team. By following the suggestions on this web site for working with your physician and other healthcare providers, you can improve the quality and safety of the care you receive.

Use the menu below to learn more about Patient Safety at Saint Alphonsus.


Medication Safety

Preventing Falls

Preventing Infection

Surgery, Tests & Procedures

Patient Safety: Communication

Clear communication between the patient and the healthcare team is vital to patient safety.

  • Choose a doctor that you're comfortable talking with about your health and treatment.
  • Ask questions of your doctor, nurse and other caregivers.
  • Involve family members or friends in your care. They can help you ask questions and understand care instructions, particularly if there are times when you may not be able to do this for yourself.
  • Don't be afraid to ask hospital staff if they have washed their hands before caring for you.
  • Be prepared to state your name and date of birth whenever treatments or medications are given to you. Caregivers need to ask this to make sure they have the correct patient.
  • While you are in the hospital, talk to your doctor, nurses and other care providers about the daily goals for your care.
  • Seek information about your condition, what to expect during your hospital stay and what your treatment plan will be when you leave the hospital.
  • Share information about your health history and medications with your healthcare team. Saint Alphonsus provides secure patient health portals, where you can safely store your personal health history.

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Patient Safety: Medication Safety

When patients don't clearly understand what medications to take and how to take them, they can't fully participate in their treatment and often mistakes occur. Here are some recommendations for medication safety.

  • Bring a list of all medications you are currently taking including prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements and home remedies.
  • Keep your medication list current and carry it in your wallet or purse.
  • If you have allergies or reactions to certain medications, be sure to inform your doctor and nurse.
  • Each time a medication is given to you, ask for the name of the medication and why it is being given.
  • Ask for written information on each drug you are given.
  • Before you leave the hospital, ask for a written list of all medication you are to take at home. Be sure you know:
    • Brand and generic names of the medications
    • What they are prescribed for
    • How much and how often to take them
    • What to expect from the medication—results and side effects
    • Any special instructions about taking the drug

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Patient Safety: Preventing Falls

While in the hospital, most falls occur when patients try to get out of bed by themselves, usually when they are trying to get to the bathroom. Weakness, dizziness, medical equipment and unfamiliar surroundings are all risk factors for falling while in the hospital. It is always safer to ask for help when getting out of bed.

  • Keep your call light within reach.
  • Call for assistance with getting out of bed.
  • Wear footwear with non-slip soles.
  • Turn on adequate light when getting up.
  • Keep your glasses within easy reach.
  • Some medications or conditions may cause a frequent need to use the bathroom. Talk to your nurse about setting up a regular schedule for using the bathroom.

In some situations where a patient becomes agitated or confused, safety devices such as bed siderails, safety belts or safety vests may be used.

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Patient Safety: Preventing Infection

Proper hand washing is the single most important way to prevent infection during and following a hospital stay. Here are some additional recommendations about hand washing and other prevention methods.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after handling soiled materials, coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or using the bathroom.
  • Do not be afraid to remind your doctor, nurses or other caregivers to wash their hands before touching you.
  • Ask family and friends who have a cold, cough, fever or other respiratory symptoms not to visit you in the hospital.
  • If you have a dressing over a wound or intravenous catheter (IV), keep the area clean and dry. Tell your nurse if the dressing becomes soiled, wet or loose.
  • If you are a diabetic, talk to your doctor about the best way to control your blood sugar before, during and after your hospital stay. High blood sugars can increase your risk of infection.
  • Smoking increases your risk of developing a lung infection. Ask your doctor or nurse to provide you with information on smoking cessation programs.
  • Ask your doctor to avoid using a urinary catheter, if possible. If you need a catheter, ask your doctor to remove it as soon as possible. The catheter tube that drains urine from your bladder can be a source of infection.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight before surgery will reduce your risk of infection.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about breathing treatments and getting out of bed. Deep breathing and activity can prevent lung infections. If pain is a concern, ask your nurse for pain medication and advice on reducing pain before doing these activities.

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Patient Safety: Surgery, Tests & Procedures

Communication with your doctor and healthcare team are essential for you to make good decisions about the need for tests, surgery and other treatments.

  • Before you consent to surgery, make sure you are informed by your doctor about the purpose and benefits of the surgery, other possible treatment options and potential risks of having surgery.
  • If you decide surgery is the right choice for you, ask:
    • What will be done during the surgery?
    • What do I need to do to prepare for surgery?
    • How will I feel during my recovery?
    • What is the plan for my recovery and treatment after I leave the hospital?
  • Ask questions to be sure you know why a test or procedure is needed and how the results will help you.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse when and how you will get the results of the test or procedure.
  • If you don't get the results when expected, don't assume the results are fine. Call your doctor and ask for the results.

Understand what test results mean for your health and treatment. You have the right to know the actual results. Having this information will help you track your health status over time.

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