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For a Safer Visit

Safety is a Partnership

At Vanderbilt, patient and family-centered care is central to our mission. We value your active role with your healthcare team. Being in a hospital or a clinic can be stressful and confusing.

You can partner with us for a safer visit by taking time to understand a few good safety practices, asking questions and keeping us informed of your health conditions.

During your hospital stay, if you feel that anything is "just not right" or there is a medical emergency, call 1-1111 for the Rapid Response Team. Tell your nurse that you called for a Rapid Response Team.

Patient Advocates

You should have a reliable friend or family member with you to advocate for you. Your advocate will be a second set of eyes and ears to help you get the best care. Your advocate is a trusted and important member of your healthcare team.

Your advocate should:

  • Accompany you to appointments.
  • Suggest questions to ask your provider.
  • Help prevent oversights and mistakes.
  • Help you remember medical instructions and clarify treatment options.
  • Make phone calls, check on tests and solve problems while you are in the hospital.
  • Assure your wishes are carried out.

Medication Safety

Medication safety is a top priority. Please bring a list of your current medications with you to the hospital. For a visit to an outpatient clinic, you can also bring your medications with you in a bag. Include any over-the-counter medications or supplements you may be taking.

  • Ask a doctor, nurse or pharmacist about anything you don't understand about your medicines.
  • Discuss any allergies or reactions to drugs with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
  • Check each new prescription before you leave the pharmacy to make sure it is right. 
  • Read labels carefully when taking your medicines.
  • Speak up if you think something isn’t right.
  • At home, store your medication in a secure area and dispose of unused medication.

Infection Prevention

Our healthcare team is trained in infection control, but you also play an important role in preventing infections:

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Remind your healthcare providers and visitors wash their hands.
  • Ask visitors to avoid touching things around your bed area.
  • Don’t let anyone who is sick visit you in the hospital.
  • Don’t touch IVs, tubes and wounds.
  • Remind your healthcare team to “scrub the hub” of your IV with an alcohol wipe.
  • Help prevent pneumonia from settling in your lungs. As soon as your doctor allows, ask for assistance to get up and start moving around.

Preventing Falls

Your medical condition, medication you’re taking, your age and/or injury can make you more prone to falls than you usually are. Strategies to help keep you safe:

  • Always ask for help before getting out of a bed or chair, especially if you feel weak. Call, don’t fall.
  • Be aware of medical devices or equipment which can trip you and ask your nurse to move any equipment that may be in the way.
  • Wear the non-skid yellow slippers provided, or ask your nurse or caregiver for a pair.
  • Use assistive devices such as walkers or canes. 

Your Surgery

If you are preparing for an inpatient or outpatient surgical procedure, understand the precautions you need to take before surgery and any follow-up care you will need.

Before surgery:

  • Review all of your patient education material suggested by your doctor or nurse.
  • Have your doctor review the procedure in words you can understand.
  • Understand the risks of surgery.
  • Ask how long you will be in the hospital and make plans for getting to and from the hospital.
  • Learn how your pain will be managed during and after your procedure.
  • Understand what you need to do the night before and the morning of surgery, including instructions about eating, drinking and bathing.
  • Ask about recovery at home, physical therapy, home care and/or rehabilitation.
  • Prepare a space in your home for you to recover comfortably and safely.

During surgery:

For your safety, your healthcare team will ask you your name, date of birth and type and location/site of surgery. The team will ask you these questions several times before your surgery, as a safety precaution.

After surgery: 

  • If your doctor orders medicine, make arrangements to pick it up at the pharmacy.
  • Understand the follow-up you will need after surgery.
  • Write down the date and address of any follow-up appointments.
  • Schedule an appointment to see your primary care doctor after you go home.
  • Ask your nurse to help you sign up for My Health at Vanderbilt to keep track of your appointments.

Tips for a Hospital Stay

For a planned hospital stay, learn as much as you can about your illness, procedure or test. 

Prepare for your visit by:

  • Verifying with your doctor's office where you will be admitted and the time you should arrive.
  • Learning where to park and how much time it will take to get from your parked car to your appointment.
  • Make a list of all your current medications, including over-the-counter products and dietary or herbal supplements. 

What to bring to the hospital:

  • A list of current medications, including over-the-counter products and dietary or herbal supplements. 
  • A trusted friend or family member to act as your advocate.
  • A list of any questions you have to ask your provider or caregiver.
  • Personal items, such as toiletries.

During your hospital stay:

  • Ask questions and listen to the instructions of your healthcare team.
  • Let us know any allergies you may have.
  • Ask everyone who comes in your room to wash their hands.
  • Remind every person to identify themselves when they enter your room.
  • Ask questions about medications before they are given to you.
  • Make sure your nurse or caregiver checks your armband before giving you medicine.
  • Report anything unusual to your doctor.

Before you leave:

  • Make sure you understand your discharge instructions. 
  • Explain your discharge instructions to your advocate.
  • Make sure you understand any written information.
  • Get the name and number of someone you can call if you have any questions.
  • Make sure you do not leave behind any personal items, including phone chargers.

Tips for a Clinic Visit

You can prepare for a visit to your health care provider’s office by following a few simple tips.

Before your appointment:

  • Confirm the date and time of your appointment with your provider's office.
  • Make a list of all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter products and herbal supplements.
  • Make a list of symptoms, concerns or questions to ask your provider.
  • Review parking information if this is your first visit.

Bring with you:

  • A list of all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter products and herbal supplements, or bring the medicines in a bag with you to your appointment.
  • A list of concerns or questions you wish to ask your provider.
  • A trusted friend or family member to be your advocate. 

At your appointment:

  • Provide accurate information about your health history and symptoms.
  • Know how to describe any pain you are having on a 1-10 scale. 
  • Let us know if you have any allergies or sensitivities to products.
  • Ask questions.
  • Make notes of the answers to your questions.

Before you leave:

  • Gather instructions for your follow-up appointment, lab test or procedure.
  • Ask questions about anything you do not understand.
  • If you need a prescription filled, ask directions to the pharmacy.
  • If you haven't done so, activate your account at My Health at Vanderbilt.