Patient safety is our top priority and is built-in to every aspect of the care we provide. We also want our patients and their families to be actively involved and working with their health care team to help prevent harm and reduce risks. Here are some of the steps we take for your safety and how you can help.
Patient Safety Initiatives
Certain medicines, general weakness and new surroundings can increase your risk of falling. Our Falls Prevention program helps reduce your risk of falling while in hospital. First, we assess your individual risk. This may include asking you to answer some questions or do a series of actions such as standing up or walking down a hall. This allows us to write a care plan best suited to your needs. If something changes while you are in hospital, we will do another assessment and make any changes to the plan that are necessary.
Here is what you and your family can do to help prevent falls while in the hospital:
- tell your nurse about any recent falls or safety concerns.
- use the nurse call bell when you need help, including getting up and using the bathroom. A nursing staff member may also stay with you in the bathroom.
- if you take medicines that cause you to go to the bathroom often, or find it very difficult or painful to get up out of bed even with help, you can ask your nurse about using a commode or urinal.
- place the nurse call bell and personal items where you can easily reach them.
- bring shoes or slippers from home that have good gripping bottoms and put them on whenever you get out of bed.
- take your time getting out of bed or up from a chair. Sit at the edge of your bed for a few seconds before you stand up.
- if you need help standing or walking, ask for someone to help you. If you use a walker or cane at home, bring it with you. Make sure that you put your name on it. Do not try to use a bedside table or IV pole to support you as these are not safe.
- bring your eyeglasses and hearing aid from home and always wear them when you are awake.
When you come to hospital, it is important to bring all of your medications from home (as well as the bottles or packages they came in) along with an up-to-date list with the medication dose, the time you take it and what you take it for. This includes any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies. Both our hospital team and our patients have a very important role to play in sharing information about medication, ensuring you are treated with the right medication.
Here’s what you and your family can do:
- pack all your medication with packages and bottles in a plastic bag. This includes prescription and non-prescription medications such as cold/flu medicine, vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies.
- before you come to the hospital, make a list of all medications you take (you can use this template to make your list) and keep it in your wallet at all times. The label on the bottle will have the name, how much to take, and how often to take it.
- if you know what each medication is for, write that on your list as well. If you don’t know, before coming to the hospital, ask your doctor or at the store where you get your pills.
- when you first arrive and check in at Admitting, tell the clerk about any allergies you have. If you do have allergies, you should be given a special bracelet. Make sure you keep it on and tell your nurse if it comes off.
We will work with you to establish your medication history. As part of this process, you may be asked several times – by nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other health care providers – to repeat the medications you are taking. This is done on purpose as part of our safety program.
We may also change the medications you are taking while in hospital. This may be on a short-term basis or your hospital physician may need to make a permanent change. You will be told if there is a change, and it is a good idea to write yourself a note or ask the nurse to make a note for you.
If there is a new medication that you need to take when you leave the hospital to go home or any changes to medications you were taking, your physician or hospital pharmacist will go over the changes, give your written handout outlining the changes and provide any instructions you need. Any new, stopped or changed prescriptions will be sent to your community pharmacy.
Our goal is to make sure that you always get the right medication at the right time. To help us find any opportunities to make changes to the way we do things to keep patients safer, we have a hospital Medication Incident Review Committee. Any time there is a concern about medications this group reviews what the issue was and how we can improve.
Safety means checking and re-checking all of the information we have about you -- and the first step is making sure we know you are you!
- each time you arrive at the hospital, you will be asked to provide your health care card and one other form of government issued ID.
- if any of the information on your cards or on any paperwork you’ve been given is old or wrong, please tell the Admitting clerk.
- each time you receive any treatment, exam or medication in our hospitals, you will be asked again for your name and date of birth and we will check your ID bracelet to confirm your identity.
Your surgical team uses a checklist to ensure your safety. Here are some of the things you can expect:
- before your surgery, your surgeon will verify with you the location on your body where the operation will occur and will use a marker to initial the spot. If you are having an anaesthetic for a specific area of your body (regional block) before your surgery, the site where the block will be done will be marked by the anaesthetist before the procedure.
- before you are given an anaesthetic (medication), the surgical team will again confirm that you are the right patient. You will be asked your name and one other identifying information...possibly many times.
- inside the operating room, the surgical team will again confirm that you are the right patient. The surgery you are having and all important information about you will be reviewed by the team out loud. This is to make sure that the operating room team understands and agrees with what is going to happen. The team will discuss the important steps in your surgery, your medications, allergies or any special needs you may have during your surgery.
Leaving Hospital Safely
Our hospital staff and health care providers in the community work together to make sure that patients have the information and support they need when they return home.
When you check in or within your first few days in hospital, one of our staff will talk to you about what you might need when you go back home. Ultimately, your physician will decide when it is best for you to leave the hospital. Before you leave, hospital staff will give you:
- information about any services that have been arranged or that you can request to help you recover at home
- a sheet telling you what medications (pills) you need to take and how often to take them
- instructions about any appointments that have been made for you or that you need to make with your doctor or another health care provider; for example, you may need to have tests or physiotherapy
- tell you what to expect and how long it will take before you are fully recovered
If something isn’t clear, please ask questions. It is very important that you understand what you need to do.
Please ask a family member or friend to pick you up when you leave the hospital, as it may not be safe for you to drive yourself. Ask a staff member if you need information about local transportation such as taxis or public transit.
If you are a non-Canadian resident, please visit our Admitting & Discharge desk before you leave to make arrangements for paying for your treatment.
In Case of Emergency
If you have any concerns, such as changes in your health condition, fire, smoke, odd smell, violent or threatening behavior, or any situation that makes you feel unsafe, tell any staff member near you or ring the nurse call button. Our team will help you and give you instructions.
All hospital staff, physicians, ambulance drivers and emergency medical service (EMS) providers must wear hospital-issued photo identification. These ID cards also help to ensure that only authorized personnel can access certain areas of the hospital. If you cannot see the photo identification on one of our staff members, it is okay to ask them to show it to you.