National Consumers League

Patient safety starts with you


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Update: Scary must-read in the New York Times re: hospital safety Happy National Patient Safety Week! Nationally, this week marks an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of and highlight ways in which we can all help improve patient safety. As a patient, you can take five easy steps towards being a safer patient – and preventing infection and complications when you visit your local hospital or point-of-care:

  1. Hospital Infection Protection 411 – know your hospital’s infection control practices and talk to your health care team about infection protection.
  2. Antibiotics – the misuse and overuse of antibiotics can lead to drug resistance, including MRSA, which can lead to very serious infections. Make sure any antibiotics prescribed are necessary, and then be sure to follow the prescription and take as directed.
  3. Catheter Caution – 25 percent of hospital patients have a urinary catheter. The risk of a urinary tract infection increases the longer the catheter is in place (particularly if more than 2 days); if you’ve had a catheter in for more than 48 hours, ask if and when it can be removed.
  4. Know Your Care Team – see if your hospital has an Infection Preventionist; if you’re feeling really eager or interested in the practices of your hospital, ask to meet with the preventionist.
  5. Keep Your Hands Clean – not only should you keep your hands clean while in the hospital, but feel free to ask that anyone touching you wash their hands well.