For more information about patient safety, visit the Indiana Patient Safety Center.
Help prevent errors in your care
Health care workers across the country are working hard to make health care safety a priority. Everyone has a role in making health care safe – physicians, health care executives, nurses, technologists, and you, the patient. You can play a vital role in making your surgical procedure safe by becoming an active, involved and informed member of your health care team. Here’s what you can do to make your surgery safe. To support this goal, the Joint Commission has created a Universal Protocol to Prevent Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure and Wrong Person Surgery™. Community Heart and Vascular endorses the Universal Protocol.
Before you arrive
- Make sure that your surgeon is using the Universal Protocol. The physicians and staff of Community Heart and Vascular follow the Universal Protocol to Prevent Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure and Wrong Person Surgery.
- Check with your doctor to see whether there are any prescription or non-prescription medications that you should avoid taking or stop taking temporarily before your surgery.
- Check with your doctor about what you can and cannot eat or drink before your surgery.
- Write down your questions or concerns. This will help you in talking to your physician.
- Make arrangements for transportation to and from the hospital or medical facility with a responsible family member or friend.
- As a family member or friend to be with you in the hospital. This person can serve as your advocate and help ensure your comfort and safety.
- Before leaving home, shower and wash your hair and remove nail polish from fingers and toes. Do not wear make-up to the hospital on the day of your procedure. The skin and nails provide important signs of blood circulation.
- It is a good idea to leave all valuables at home.
At the hospital
You will be asked to sign an informed consent form which verifies that you and your doctor have discussed your surgery, the expectation you have of each other, and the risks associated with surgery.
The staff responsible for your care will verify who you are, what kind of surgery you are having, and the part of your body where the surgery is to be performed. You will be asked these questions many times. Staff will also double-check the information you give them against the documents provided by your doctor’s office, including x-rays. You may find repeating this information irritating, but it is being done for your safety.
Before going to the pre-operative area, you must remove any hairpins, jewelry, dentures, contact lenses and glasses. The staff will take care of these items and return them to you after the procedure.
Depending on the type of surgery you are having, the doctor who will perform your surgery or another member of your health care team will mark the correct location on your body. Called “site marking,” this is a critical step in ensuring your safety and preventing errors.
If at all possible, the mark will be made before you are sedated. In some instances, you will need to be sedated before the mark can be made. If this happens, a family member or friend may be asked to oversee the marking of the correct surgical site. If a family member or friend is not available, another member of the health care team will make sure that the correct site is marked.
Make sure that only the location where your procedure is to be performed is marked. It can be confusing if other sites are marked.
Ask your doctor if he or she plans to take a “time out” with the surgical team just before the beginning of your surgery. During the time out, the members of the health care team assure themselves that they are performing the correct procedure at the correct site, on the correct person.
In the recovery room
After your surgery, your doctor or nurse will ask about any pain you may have. Joint Commission accredited organizations are required to evaluate your pain and provide appropriate relief through medication and other methods.
Whenever you are asked to take a medication, especially a new one, ask what it is for and its side effects. If you have questions or concerns about any medication, you should raise these with your doctor or nurse.
If you are given IV fluids, ask your nurse how long it should take for the liquid to run out. Contact your nurse if you notice that the IV seems be “dripping” too fast or too slow.
Remember to follow up with your physician about medications or therapy that you may need in your recovery, as well as when you can resume your normal activities.