Patients Rights and Safety
As a patient, you have certain rights. As your care giver, the medical team at Nix Health encourages you to carefully learn and understand your rights because the more you know, the more you can contribute to the effectiveness of your treatment and the quality of your care.
Sponsored by The Joint Commission and strongly supported by Nix Health, the "Speak Up" program urges patients to get involved with their care. Research has shown that patients who take an active role in their healthcare are more likely to have a better and faster recovery. Speak up if you have any questions. If you don't understand, ask questions. Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you are getting the right treatments and medications by the right healthcare professionals. Don't just assume. Educate yourself about your health, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan. Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate. Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common healthcare mistakes. Use a hospital that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation of quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.
Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of your healthcare team. Nix Health welcomes and encourages you to Speak Up! about any concerns or practices that you may have observed or experienced regarding the safety process while you are in the hospital. Please talk to your nurse about your concerns or ask to speak to a patient representative.
S – Speak Up
P – Pay Attention
E – Education Yourself
A – Find an Advocate
K – Know What Medications You Are Taking and Why
U – Use a Facility That Meets the Joint Commission’s Standards
P – Participate In Your Care
You have the right to make informed decisions about your medical care. However, if you become unable to speak with your doctor or family, you can still have the kind of medical care you want by completing an "advance directive." There are several types of advance directives for hospital patients. All of them are legal documents that you complete ahead of time that clearly state your choices for medical treatment and relieve your family of the burden of guessing what treatment you would want. Advance Directives do not have to be notarized and do not, in any way, affect your insurance coverage. Keep in mind that Advance Directives are only effective when your doctor confirms that you are not capable of making informed decisions. Until then, you will continue to have the right to make medical decisions for yourself. If you want the hospital to help you with any of the directives, please let us know.
Not only do you have the right to ask for pain relief, your doctors and nurses rely on you to let them know if you are in pain. Properly managing your pain is important to your treatment because less pain means less stress on the body and the mind.
Typically, your doctor will prescribe medication to help ease pain. However, there are other methods of pain relief for mild to moderate pain, such as the use of heat and cold, massage and changing your position by using pillows or sitting up. If you are concerned about becoming addicted to pain medication, be assured that, when pain medicines are given and taken in the correct way, patients rarely become addicted to them. In order to determine your level of pain, you will be asked to rate your pain on a scale of "0" (no pain) up to "10" (worst possible pain). Using the same scale every time helps your caregiver find out if your pain or discomfort is changing.
More than one-third of adults 65 and older fall each year, making falls the most common cause of injuries. Falls may not be fatal, but they can be serious enough to lengthen your hospital stay and restrict your activity level.
Nix Health is committed to promoting a safe environment to prevent falls. When you are admitted to our hospital, your nurse will complete an assessment to determine your risk of falling and take precautions to help keep you safe. However, our efforts can only be successful if you and your caregivers become partners in our Fall Prevention Program.
What can increase your risk for falls?
- Some medications can cause side effects that affect your balance and cause dizziness, confusion, or disorientation.
- Balance can be affected by lower body weakness, surgery, or neurological disorders.
- Confusion or decrease in mental alertness, memory or judgment.
- History of falls.
How can you reduce your risk of falling while in the hospital?
- Use the call light when you need assistance.
- Always lean against the back support of the wheelchair – never lean forward while in a wheelchair.
- Wear non-skid shoes or slippers.
- Place personal items (such as eyeglasses, dentures, cell phone) within reach.
- Ask your nurse about any safety concerns you may have.
Hand washing has been determined to be the simplest, and possibly the best way to prevent the spread of infection and disease both in hospitals, and at home.
The Dangers of Not Washing Your Hands
Throughout the day, your body accumulates germs, and your hands are one of the main points of attraction. Think about how many surfaces you touch during an average day, then think about how many other people have touched the same surface. If you don’t wash your hands frequently, you are at risk of infecting yourself or others with the germs that have been gathering on your hands. Touching your eyes, nose or mouth gives these germs direct contact to a main breeding ground. The main infections that are most commonly spread from hand to hand contact include the common cold or flu, diarrhea and many gastrointestinal problems. Just because you may have a certain variety of a cold, you can never be sure how that particular infection will transmit to the next person. This is why, regardless of how you feel, washing your hands frequently will ensure you are taking the proper precautions to keep yourself well. We all know to wash our hands after using the bathroom, but studies have shown that most Americans do not practice this simple activity. It is equally important to wash your hands both before and after you handle raw food or any waste material.
Proper Hand Washing Techniques
Hands should be washed with warm, running water and soap. Studies have shown that washing (rubbing vigorously) your hands with soap for 20 seconds helps ensure you have killed any bacteria that may have been on them. Make sure you cover every surface of your hands, including between your fingers as this is a place most commonly forgotten. After 20 seconds, rinse your hands with running warm water and dry with a paper towel. Make sure your hands are completely dry to avoid any re-contamination from cold, wet hands. Try to turn off the water using a paper towel, and if in a public place, use the same paper towel to open the door.
Hand sanitizers are also a way to clean your hands and have been proven more effective than hand washing alone, unless your hands are visibly dirty. It is best to use a sanitizer which includes a moisturizer, since most brands tend to dry your hands out due to the alcohol. However, you want to make sure the sanitizer you are using does indeed contain alcohol, as that is one of the main agents which will kill the bacteria.
One thing to remember when using an antibacterial soap is that it is no more effective at killing germs than regular soap is. Research has also shown that there are new strands of bacteria that have been forced to become resistant to antibacterial agents, just like viruses become immune to antibiotics if taken too often.