Patient Safety – Your Role

Each one of us has a responsibility to make healthcare safe: consultants, nurses, technicians, support staff, family members and especially you, the Patient!

Mater Private Network has put many measures in place to keep you safe and prevent errors with your care, but we also need you to work with us to keep you safe. By becoming an active / informed member of the healthcare team, you and your family play a vital role in providing safe care.

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns about your care.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions or talk about your health.
  • Ask about how decisions are made. If something is different from what you were told to expect, ask why.
  • If you are unhappy with any aspect of your care it is important that you flag this to a member of your care team immediately so the issue can be dealt with in advance of discharge.  
  • Various staff members will be helping with your care so you will be asked to repeat certain information to each member of your healthcare team. E.g. You can expect to be asked your name and date of birth before receiving any medication, blood sampling, food or treatment. Expect to have your identification band checked numerous times during your stay.
  • Do not be afraid to ask about safety. If you are having a procedure / surgery, make sure you and your consultant agree on the site (body part) and the type of procedure. If your surgery is specific to the right or left side, a mark will be made on the site to avoid any confusion in the operating theatre or procedure area. This site marking will also be done if there is a choice of levels or digits (e.g. fingers, toes) involved. We need to make sure we have the right patient, site, side and procedure.

Your consultant and other healthcare team members need to know if you have:

  • Any allergies or sensitivities to medicines, foods, or other things. Tell everyone about your allergies
  • Medicines to take. This includes all prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, minerals, and herbal or nutritional supplements. Keep a written list of the name, strength, dose, and frequency of all your medications.  You are required to bring and up to date printed list from your local pharmacist of all medications you are taking with you on the day of your procedure
  • Tried any treatments on your own that may or may not have worked
  • Any particular beliefs or customs you have that we need to know about when caring for you
  • Pay attention to the care you are receiving
  • Expect healthcare workers to wear identification badges and to introduce themselves to you.
  • Your identification band and allergy band are important to your safety. If you cannot read it or it is incorrect, tell staff.
  • Tell staff if you are given a food that you are not supposed to eat.
  • Expect equipment alarms to be promptly answered by staff.
  • Notice whether your healthcare team members and visitors wash their hands or use an alcohol- based hand rub when they come into your room. Hand washing is the best way to limit the spread of germs. Do not be afraid to gently remind people to do this.
  • Educate yourself about your diagnosis, medical tests, and treatment plan.
  • Collect information about your condition. Write down significant facts your consultant or nurse tells you and any questions you have.
  • Read and understand all forms before you sign them. Ask for help if you do not understand.
  • Understand how to operate equipment you will need at home.
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate. This person can ask questions that you may not think of. Your advocate can speak up for you if you cannot. Make sure this person understands your preferences and wishes for care. Review consents with your advocate before you sign them. Make sure your advocate understands the type of care you will need when you get home.
  • Medication errors are the most common healthcare mistakes.
  • If you do not recognise a medication, make sure it is really for you.
  • If you are not sure what medicines you are being given, ask what they are, what they are for, and ask about any side effects.
  • Whenever you receive a new medication, tell your doctors and nurses about any allergies or sensitivities you have and ask if it is safe to take more than one medication at the same time.
  • If you are receiving pain medication, be sure to ask for help getting out of bed or a chair if you feel unsteady or lightheaded.
  • If you are given an I.V., be sure to let the nurse know if it does not seem to be dripping properly or the pump alarm goes off.
  • Use the nurse call bell to ask for assistance
  • Listen to the advice given to you by your nurse
  • Take care not to overreach for things (e.g. on your bedside table or locker). If needed, ask for assistance (ring the call bell).
  • When you are moving from lying down to standing up position: sit on the bed for a minute before you stand up. Move your ankles up and down to get your blood pumping. Get your ‘nose over your toes’ before you stand up. Push off the bed or chair; do not pull up. Wait a minute before you start to walk.
  • When you are walking: wait for staff before moving if they have recommended that you need assistance or supervision. Take your time when turning around. Count each step to help pace yourself. If you have a walking aid, make sure it is in good condition. Use your walking aid appropriately. Do not grab for furniture. Wear you distance glasses or bi/multi focals when walking. Wear well-fitting slippers or use lightweight shoes that are non-slip and comfortable.
  • Did you know that a third of people aged over 65 and one-half of people aged over 80 years have had a fall at least once a year.
  • Know who will be taking care of you.
  • You and your consultant should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of your care.
  • Know how long your treatment will last, and how you should feel.
  • Make sure you understand what a new test or medication is likely to achieve.
  • Let us know if you are in pain. Tell us if your pain is not relieved by the treatment given.
  • Be sure you understand all instructions about your care after discharge. Your discharge instructions will include information on your diet, activity, medication, equipment, wound / skin care, and follow-up appointments.

Ask questions. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be in the decisions you make.