10 Ways to Stay Safe at the Hospital

  • Prevent infections. Wash your hands often. Ask everyone who comes into your room to wash their hands too. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer near your bed. Ask your doctor if you are up-to-date on your vaccines, especially flu and pneumococcal vaccines. And learn about the symptoms of sepsis.

  • Know your medicines. Make sure that the hospital staff knows about all medicines and natural health products you take. Keep a detailed list with you. And follow your doctor's instructions for any medicines you take.

  • Help avoid medicine errors. Every time someone gives you a medicine, make sure that the person first checks your hospital ID bracelet. Be sure that he or she has checked that you are getting the correct medicine and the right dose. Ask about side effects to watch for.

  • Use caution so you don't fall. Call a nurse before you get out of bed for the first time. Get up slowly, and wear socks, slippers, or shoes that won't slip.

  • Prevent blood clots. Get out of bed as soon as you safely can. If you can't get out of bed, exercise your lower leg muscles by stretching your calves. You can point and flex your toes or draw circles with your feet. Ask about special compression stockings to help blood flow in your legs and feet.

  • Prevent bedsores. Change your position in bed often, or shift your weight. When it's safe to do so, move around as much as you can. Check your skin every day, and try to stay clean.

  • Speak up if you're in pain. Let someone know if you feel more pain or if you're having side effects from your pain medicine.

  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products while you are in the hospital. It can be a good time to think about quitting for good. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines.

  • Be involved in your care. Ask about treatments, medicines, and ways to stay safe and comfortable while you are in the hospital. Write down questions as you think of them. Your caregivers, family members, or other supporters can also be involved in your care and ask questions.

  • Remember: It's your health. If your treatment isn't going how you expected, talk to your doctor or another member of your care team about it.