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Patient Safety: Reducing Errors

At Yale-New Haven Hospital, we've put the necessary policies in place to minimize the risk of medical errors and keep our patients safe. You can help too.

Here are a few things we're doing—and ask you to do—to help prevent medication and treatment errors during your stay.

Avoiding Medication Errors

Every patient should work closely with their physicians, nurses and pharmacist to make the best use of medications. By being an informed patient, you can decrease the chance of medication errors and bad reactions.

Ask your doctors and nurses about your medications—what they are, what they do, when they are given and their possible side effects. Request any written information that is available. Get to know their color, size and dose. Let your nurse know if your medicines are late, look different or if you have any reactions to them.

Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any allergies or have previously had a reaction to any drug or medicine. If you have an allergy or known history of drug reactions, please be sure the staff has given you a red allergy bracelet.

Make sure to tell your doctor and nurse about other drugs you are taking (including vitamins, herbal remedies or over-the-counter medicine). Bring in a list (including dosage) of all medications you were taking at home.

Do not take any medicines you brought from home, unless your doctor or hospital staff has asked you to. If possible, ask a friend or family member to take your medicines back home.

Patient Identification Bracelets

When you are admitted, you will have a patient identification bracelet placed on your wrist. Check to make you're your ID bracelet includes your name and unique medical record number.

Please do not remove your patient ID bracelet. If it comes off, ask someone to get you another one.

Remind all caregivers to look at your ID bracelet before giving medication, drawing blood or performing a procedure.

Staff Identification Policy

All hospital employees are required to wear photo identification badges. Be sure all your caregivers have a hospital or medical school I.D. with their picture on it.

Avoiding Treatment and Equipment Errors

Well-informed patients can assist doctors, nurses and other hospital workers in avoiding mistakes.

Write down questions for physicians about your procedures, treatments and medications as you think of them, and be sure to get answers the next time you see them.

Find out what is planned for you each day and ask questions about tests or treatments that seem unusual.

Ask healthcare providers to explain what you can expect from any equipment being used on or around you. How is it supposed to sound and feel? What does it do for you? Question anything that seems unusual or different from what you were told.

If you are visiting a family member and notice any unusual level of confusion, talk with the nursing staff about safety options.

Communication is Key

Many of the tactics and tips above rely on clear communication between you and your caregivers.

If you need help communicating, have a family member or friend listen with you when a diagnosis, treatment, test result or discharge plan is being explained. Translation services and hearing-impaired assistance are also available any time of day or night, at no cost to you.

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