Everyone has a role in making health care safe — doctors, nurses, other hospital staff, your family members — and especially, you. At Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, we work to protect you while you are receiving care, but we can’t do it without you. Here are some ways that you can help.
Help Prevent Infections
Reducing your exposure to germs is paramount to ensuring a healthy environment. Avoid the potential to spread of infection by:
- Washing hands: Everyone — including visitors, staff and doctors — should clean their hands with soap and water (or alcohol hand foam) when they enter and leave your room. You should also wash your hands before eating, after using the toilet and throughout the day.
- Caring for your IV and bandages properly: If you have an intravenous (IV) catheter, avoid touching it, don’t get it wet, and do not pull or twist the catheter tubing. Notify your nurse if the bandage becomes wet, dirty or comes out. And if you have a bandage (also called a dressing), let your nurse know if it gets loose or feels uncomfortable.
- Using surgical soap: If you are having surgery, you may be asked to shower with a special soap to decrease your chance of getting an infection.
- Ensuring visitors are healthy: Tell your relatives and friends not to visit you if they have a cold or feel sick.
Help Prevent Falls
Your risk of falling is greater while you are in the hospital, especially following surgery. The injuries associated with falls, such as fractures and head injuries, can be life-threatening which why we are here to assist you. Most falls happen when patients try to get out of their bed or chair or go to the bathroom without help. Always call your nurse before trying to get up yourself. You can also help prevent falls by following these guidelines:
- Call for help: Do not allow family members or visitors to help you get out of bed or your chair or walk to the bathroom. Please call your nurse to help you instead.
- Keep your things handy: Keep items you need, such as glasses, tissue, call button and your phone within reach.
- Go slow: Change your position slowly to avoid getting lightheaded or dizzy.
Help Us Ensure You’re Taking Your Medications Correctly
Taking medication might be part of your treatment plan. Ensure you’re doing it safely by:
- Providing a medication list: Be sure to tell us about any medications you take at home, including over-the-counter medications, herbs, vitamins and supplements.
- Listing your allergies: Inform us about any allergies or reactions you have to medication, food or other things.
- Taking only the pills authorized by your doctor: While you are in the hospital, do not take medications brought from home, including vitamins — unless your physician or nurse says it’s okay.
- Asking questions: Ask about your medicines before your nurse administers them. It is important that you know what your medicines are, what they are for, and what side effects you may experience.
- Being careful with antibiotics: Antibiotics are powerful, life-saving drugs. Like all medications, antibiotics have side effects and should only be used when necessary. Please follow your doctor’s prescription and learn more about antibiotic resistance at cdc.gov/drugresistance.
Help Us Manage Your Pain
Pain is a physical and emotional experience — and typically, not a pleasant one. That’s why pain management is a top priority at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. Here’s what you can do to help us effectively treat your pain:
- Tell us about pain in your past: Your past experience with pain and ideas about pain are important to planning your pain treatment. You can help by letting your doctors and nurses know about your experiences with pain.
- Understand the limits: It is sometimes a challenge to achieve pain control without side effects. Pain control may not mean being completely free of pain.
- Work with us: We work with every patient in collaboration with their physician to achieve the best pain control possible.
- Communicate your pain level: When pain is controlled, you can move around more easily, take deeper breaths, cough more effectively, get better rest and sleep, and get your strength back more quickly. So, please:
- When you have pain, where it hurts, how it hurts and how bad it hurts.
- If your pain is new, different or does not get better with medication.
- If there is anything that makes your pain better or worse.
- If the pain medicine is making you feel funny, dizzy, nauseated or confused.
- For your pain medicine ahead of doing something that causes pain to keep the pain under control.
- About any concerns you have about taking pain medication including if the pain medicine being habit forming.
- About ways to reduce pain.
Help Us Understand Your Needs
It’s vital you speak up if you have questions or concerns about your care. Write down questions about your care as they come up, so you remember to discuss them with your doctor. Expect and insist on answers you can understand clearly and completely. Please ask us:
- If something doesn’t seem right. For example, let us know if you are given a food you are not allowed to eat or a medication you do not recognize. Also speak up if a staff member speaks about treatment that is different from that discussed with your doctor.
- BJC HealthCare promotes an environment of diversity and inclusion. Please let your health care provider know if you have any special beliefs or customs that may affect your care.
- If we’ve incorrectly marked the site for surgery or a procedure (for example, left vs. right). Staff will mark “YES” on areas. Make sure you agree with the site marked.
How We Move You Safely
Another aspect of patient safety is ensuring that you are moved safely as falls are dangerous. At Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, we know that movement is important to help you regain your health and independence. During your stay, you may need assistance with moving, repositioning or transferring. Here’s how we put your safety, health and comfort first.
- Safe Patient Handling Program: This program protects both our patients and staff during patient handling. It includes policies, education and patient handling equipment. If you have questions or concerns about our Safe Patient Handling Program, please ask your nurse or health care provider.
- Special equipment: We have several types of equipment to safely and comfortably assist you in moving. Our staff will assess your individual needs and determine the equipment that best matches your mobility needs.
- Equipment instruction: Our staff will explain how the equipment will be used so you feel safe and comfortable using it.
For More Information on Patient Safety
Download the Inpatient Folder for more additional details about your safety during your stay.