7 Patient Tips for Safer Care

Become your own patient advocate to help ensure safer care and coordinate with your health care team

At Scripps Health, we work hard to provide safe medical care. This includes asking our patients to be part of our health care team. Our goal is to create an environment where we all work together to deliver the best care in the safest way.

Here are seven tips you can follow to ensure safer care:

1. Be involved

Research shows that patients who help make decisions about their health care are more likely to have better outcomes. Educate yourself about your diagnosis by reading the information your caregivers provide, and consult respected online resources.

2. Participate in decisions about your medical care

  • Be sure you and your doctor agree on the plan for your treatment and care.
  • Ask questions before signing any medical forms. Make sure you understand what they mean and what they are for.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for more information or a second opinion.
  • Before you leave the hospital, be sure you understand all discharge instructions and follow-up care. This is a good time to have a relative or friend with you, to help ask questions and make sure you understand.

3. Have a patient advocate

  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate. Your advocate can help you ask questions, understand the answers and speak up for you. Be sure your advocate understands your desires and wishes.

4. Medications: Know what you are taking and why

  • Keep a list with you of all medications you take, including prescription, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal or nutritional supplements. Use our Universal medication form (PDF, 99 KB), or Formulario universal de medicamentos (PDF, 99 KB) to keep track of them.
  • If you take multiple medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take the medications together.
  • Make sure your doctor and caregivers know about your allergies to drugs and foods or reactions to anesthesia or latex.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor or nurse if you think you are about to get an incorrect treatment or medication.
  • At discharge, review and understand your medication list. You may be asked to discontinue some medications, and start taking new ones.

5. Follow our safety procedures

  • Be sure you understand how to call for help with the call system in your hospital room.
  • Do not adjust any medical equipment. Call your nurse to take care of your equipment or connect or disconnect your tubes.
  • Personal electrical appliances must be authorized for use. Ask your nurse for more information.
  • You may hear a fire alarm, fire drill or other alarm announced. Please remain in your room and follow your caregiver’s instructions.

6. Understand infection control

  • Follow your caregiver’s instructions to prevent possible lung infections.
  • Observe good personal hygiene by washing your hands before eating and after using the bathroom; covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; not sharing patient care items with other patients; covering your feet when you get out of bed.
  • Visitors should stay at home if they are sick, and should follow good personal hygiene (see above).

7. Understand blood clot prevention

Hospitalized patients may be at greater risk for developing blood clots, so follow your doctor’s treatment plan to prevent blood clot formation. Some treatments may include early and frequent walking, compression stockings for your legs, or medication to prevent blood clots.

Additional patient resources