Speak up if you have questions or concerns, if you still do not understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.

  • Your health is very important. Do not worry about being embarrassed if you do not understand something that your provider, nurse or other health care professional tells you. Have them clarify.
  • Do not be afraid to ask about safety. If you are having surgery, for example, participate in marking the area that is to be operated on.
  • Do not be afraid to tell the nurse or provider if you think you are about to receive the wrong medicine.
  • Do not hesitate to tell a health care professional if you think he/she has confused you with another person.

Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Always make sure you are getting the right treatments and medicines by the right health care professionals. Do not assume anything.

  • Tell your nurse or provider if something does not seem quite right.
  • Expect health care workers to introduce themselves when they enter your room and look for their identification badges. A new mother, for example, should know the person to whom she is handing her baby. If you are unsure, ask and look for their ID badge.
  • Notice whether your caregivers have washed their hands. Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections. Do not be afraid to gently remind a nurse or provider to wash their hands.
  • Know what time of the day you normally receive a medicine. If it doesn’t happen, bring this to the attention of your nurse or provider.
  • Make sure your nurse or provider confirms your identity, that is, checks your wristband and asks your name before he/she gives you any medicine or treatment.

Educate yourself about your illness. Learn about the medical tests you are undergoing and your treatment plan.

  • Gather information about your condition.
  • Write down important facts your provider tells you. Ask your provider if he/she has any written information you can keep.
  • Thoroughly read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything. If you do not understand, ask your provider or nurse to explain.
  • Make sure you know how to work any equipment that is being used in your care. If you will use oxygen at home, do not smoke or allow anyone to smoke near you while oxygen is in use.

Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.

  • Your advocate can ask questions that you may not think about when you are stressed. Your advocate can also help remember answers to questions you have asked or can write down information being discussed.
  • If you would feel more comfortable, ask this person to stay with you, even overnight, when you are hospitalized. You may be able to rest better.
  • Make sure this person understands your preferences for care and your wishes concerning resuscitation and life support.
  • Make sure your advocate understands the type of care you will need when you get home. Your advocate should know what to look for if your condition is getting worse and who to call for help.

Know what medicines you take and why you take them. Medicine errors are the most common health care mistake.

  • Ask about the purpose of the medicine and ask for written information about it, including its brand and generic names. Also ask about the side effects of all medications.
  • If you do not recognize a medicine, double-check that it is for you. Ask about medication that you are to take by mouth before you swallow it.
  • If you are given an IV, ask the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to run out. Tell the nurse if it does not seem to be dripping properly (too fast or slow).
  • Whenever you are going to receive a new medicine, tell your providers and nurses about allergies you have, or negative reactions you have had to other medications in the past.
  • If you are taking multiple medications, ask your provider or pharmacist if it is safe to take those medicines together. Do the same thing with vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs, too.
  • Make sure you can read the handwriting on prescriptions written by your provider. If you cannot read it, the pharmacist may not be able to either.
  • Carry an up-to-date list of the medicines you are taking in your purse or wallet. Write down how much you take and when you take it. Go over the list with your provider and other caregivers.

Use the call light.

  • Before attempting to get out of bed or your chair, call for staff assistance.
  • If items are not within your reach, call for staff assistance.
  • If medical equipment in your room is alarming, call for staff assistance.

If you have questions, concerns or just need to talk, call for staff assistance.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

  • You and your provider should agree on what will be done during each step of your care.
  • Know who will be taking care of you, how long the treatment will last and how it may make you feel.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion. If you are unsure of a recommendation, ask to talk with another provider.
  • Before you leave the hospital, ask about follow-up care and make sure that you understand all of the instructions.

Keeping You Safe from Falls

Your safety is our number one priority. To prevent falls and fall-related injuries, we need your help. Your knowledge, participation and cooperation with the hospital fall prevention program will help to keep you safe from falls.

What can you, or your loved one, do to help prevent a fall while staying at UPMC Western Maryland?

  • Tell the nurse if you have a history of falls
  • Wear your glasses and/or hearing aid when awake
  • Use the call light before attempting to get out of bed and wait for staff to come and help you
  • Only walk with your loved one if it’s safe to do so, otherwise allow staff to assist you when walking
  • Rise slowly from the bed or chair when getting up. Sit for a few seconds before you stand
  • Use your walker or cane for support no matter how short the walking distance may seem
  • Wear the tread slippers provided or wear non-skid footwear when out of bed
  • Do not lean or support yourself with rolling equipment such as IV poles or your bedside table
  • Make certain the call light and other needed items are within reach before family or staff exits the room

Family Members:

  • Notify the nurse before leaving the patient unaccompanied if he or she is confused
  • Consider staying at the bedside with the patient, even during the night, if he or she is confused

What we will do to help prevent you from falling:

  • Assess you for your risk of falling upon admission and during your stay
  • Implement preventative measures to help prevent you from a fall while in our hospital
  • Provide you with treaded slippers and any other recommended equipment (such as walker or bedside commode) that will make it safer for you to move about
  • Assist you with getting in and out of bed and using the restroom as needed
  • Make certain the call light and other needed items are within reach before exiting your room
  • Show you how to use your call light and remind you when to call for help
  • Respond to your calls for assistance in a timely manner and round to ensure your needs are being met
  • We will remain with you while toileting or performing personal hygiene if you are high risk for falls
  • When applicable, we will provide beds and chairs equipped with a call device for staff assistance.
UPMC Western Maryland Patient Safety Officer: 240-964-2196
The Joint Commission: 800-994-6610
Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene: 877-402-8218
Maryland Board of Pharmacy: 800-542-4964