Patient Safety: What You Can Do to Be a Safe Patient

You go to the hospital to get well, right? Of course, but did you know that you can get infections in the hospital while you are being treated for something else?

Time in the hospital can put you at risk for a healthcare-associated infection (HAI), such as a blood, surgical site, or urinary tract infection.

Every day, patients get infections in healthcare facilities while they are being treated for something else. These infections can have devastating emotional, financial, and medical effects. Worst of all, they can be deadly.

Healthcare procedures can leave you vulnerable to germs that cause HAIs. These germs can be spread in healthcare settings from patient to patient on unclean hands of healthcare personnel or through the improper use or reuse of equipment.

These infections are not limited to hospitals. For example, in the past 10 years alone, there have been more than 30 outbreaks of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in non-hospital healthcare settings such as outpatient clinics, dialysis centers, and long-term care facilities.

6 Ways to Be a Safe Patient


Be Informed. Be Empowered. Be Prepared.

1 Speak Up.

Talk to your doctor about all questions or worries you have. Ask them what they are doing to protect you.

  • If you have a catheter, ask each day if it is necessary.
  • Ask your doctor how he/she prevents surgical site infections. Also ask how you can prepare for surgery to reduce your infection risk.

2 Keep Hands Clean.

Be sure everyone cleans their hands before touching you.

3 Be Antibiotics Aware.

Ask if tests will be done to make sure the right antibiotic is prescribed.

4 Know the Signs and Symptoms of Infection.

Some skin infections, such as MRSA, appear as redness, pain, or drainage at an IV catheter site or surgery site. Often these symptoms come with a fever. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms.

5 Watch Out for Deadly Diarrhea (a.k.a. C. difficile).

Tell your doctor if you have diarrhea 3 or more times in 24 hours, especially if you have been taking an antibiotic.

6 Protect Yourself.

Get vaccinated against flu and other infections to avoid complications.