Your Health and Safety While in the Hospital

While being cared for at UC San Diego Health, your safety is one of our main concerns.

Many practices are in place to protect your well-being and to make sure you have the best possible outcomes.

As part of our Patient Safety Program, we want to teach you how to decrease the risks common in hospitals and health care settings. You can help make this a safer stay by following the guidelines below.

Know Your Hospital Care Team

All UC San Diego Health employees must wear a photo identification (ID) badge. If someone speaks with you and you do not see an ID badge, ask to see it. If the person does not show you a UC San Diego Health ID badge, tell a nurse right away.

Patient Identification

You will be given an ID wristband to wear that has important information about you. Wear this ID wristband at all times. All caregivers must check this information before giving any medicine or treatment. You may also see staff using a bar-coding machine as a special double-check.

If you do not see the person checking your ID wristband, speak up and ask them if they have. Also, if your band is removed, falls off or starts to bother you, please tell your nurse right away.

Preventing the Spread of Germs

Good hand washing is the most important act that anyone can do to stop the spread of germs. Every health care provider must wash his or her hands with an alcohol-based gel or soap and water before and after patient contact.

If you see that someone providing care for you has not washed his or her hands, please remind him or her. It is for everyone’s safety.

Certain kinds of infections are easily spread through direct contact. If your doctors know or think you may have an infection, then caregivers and family members must wear protective gear to prevent the spread of germs. This gear may include gowns, gloves and/or masks.

If this gear is needed, you will notice special signs on your door indicating that extra protection is required before entering the room. This will protect caregivers, loved ones and other patients in the hospital. Be sure to check with your nurse that you are putting the protective gear on the right way.

Medication Safety

Your doctor will order specific medicines to help you get well. Pharmacists and nurses follow detailed steps to make sure that you are given the right medicine.

If the medicines you are given do not look or sound like what you are used to, tell your doctor or nurse. Ask questions about your medicine if you do not know why you are getting it.

When your doctor writes a prescription, make sure that you can read and understand what is written. You need to know how much and how often to take your medicines. You should also know the side effects of all the medicines you are given.

Ask your doctor if you will continue to take the medicines you were taking before you came into the hospital once you return home. Do not forget to check the label on the bottle when you take your medicine. By being careful, you can help prevent mistakes.

Pain Management

Each person feels pain differently. As a patient, you can work with your hospital care team to prevent or decrease your pain. Proper pain relief can help you get well faster, be more active and prevent medical problems.

To provide the best relief possible, it is important that you help us assess your pain:

  • Where does it hurt and how does the pain feel? Try to use words that tell what type of pain you have. For example, is the pain sharp, cramping, burning, crushing or a “pins-and-needles” feeling?
  • Tell us what causes the pain, what makes it worse and what makes it better. We can adjust the pain medication accordingly.
  • We will ask you to give your pain a number using a scale from 0 to 10. (Zero is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you have ever had.) This helps us to know if you are getting enough pain relief. We also use non-verbal or other pain assessment tools when needed that are appropriate for the patient’s age, communication abilities and developmental level

There are ways to control pain with and without pain medicine. Many people use both methods to get better pain relief.

One way you can get pain medicine is by patient controlled analgesia (PCA). PCA is a special machine that allows you to control when you get pain medicine. Instead of calling your nurse when you have pain, you push a button and a certain dose of pain medicine is given to you through your IV. For your safety, it is important that only you press the button to get the pain medicine. Family members and friends should never press the button for you.

Ask for pain medicine early:

  • Pain is harder to control if it becomes too intense.
  • Pain medicine should be taken before activities such as breathing exercises, walking, or other therapy or activity that may make the pain worse.

If you want to try to avoid taking pain medicine, ask your doctor or nurse about other options.

Preventing Falls

Most falls occur when patients try to get out of bed on their own to go to the bathroom. Please ask a nurse for help when getting out of bed, especially at night.

 Ask your nurse to show you how the call button works. Make sure you can reach it easily. If you must get up at night, be sure there is enough light to see. Keep your glasses within reach to help you see better. Other ways to avoid falls include:

  • Wear slippers with rubber soles to prevent slipping.
  • Inform our staff of any spills or items on the floor.
  • Make sure the brakes are locked when you get in and out of your wheelchair.
  • Recognize that some medications and procedures may make you feel unsteady.

Electrical Safety

Fire and safety rules do not allow most plug-in devices from home to be used in patient rooms. You cannot have coffee pots, heating blankets or pads, space heaters or extension cords.

However, some items are allowed with the approval of the charge nurse or department manager. Small battery-powered devices, such as laptop computers and portable stereos, are allowed in patient rooms. A hair dryer with a circuit reset button is also allowed.

No Smoking Policy

UC San Diego Health is a 100% smoke-free environment. No smoking is allowed in the hospital or on our grounds.

Please talk with a UC San Diego Health staff person in order to obtain information on smoking cessation products available in the pharmacy. You can also speak with your caregiver about patient education materials on how to quit smoking.