We're there for safe care! Becoming Informed

Safe care is a top priority for staff and physicians at St. Alexius Medical Center. A healing environment for the mind, body and spirit is created for all with open communication, team work, showing respect, and patient involvement with decision making. We encourage patients to ask questions and be an active member of their healthcare team. Research has shown that patients who are more active with their providers recover more quickly.

The Joint Commission, a non-profit program designated to improving patient safety and care, gives the following recommendations on how to become an active, informed member of your healthcare team:

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.
  • Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you're getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don't assume anything.
  • Educate yourself about your diagnosis, 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 health care mistakes.
  • Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.
  • Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

For more information on patient safety and how to become involved, please log on to the Joint Commission website.

Preventing Mistakes

Mistakes can happen in a surgery. As an accredited hospital by The Joint Commission, St. Alexius Surgical Services follows the Universal Protocol for preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, Wrong Person Surgery. Being thorough prevents mistakes from happening during the surgical process - including pre-surgery and during recovery. As an informed patient, you can help make your surgical experience and recovery a quick and successful experience.

The Joint Commission, a non-profit program designated to improving patient safety and care, has designed steps patients can take to help maintain safety and increase their role in care.

Before Surgery

At the surgery facility the staff will ask you to sign an Informed Consent form.
Read it carefully. It lists:

  • Your name
  • The kind of surgery you will have
  • The risks of your surgery
  • That you talked to your doctor about the surgery and asked questions
  • Your agreement to have the surgery.

Make sure everything on the form is correct. Make sure all of your questions have been answered. If you do not understand something on the form-speak up. For your safety, the staff may ask you the same question many times.

They will ask:

  • Who you are
  • What kind of surgery you are having
  • The part of your body to be operated on
  • They will also double-check the records from your doctor's office.

Before your surgery
A health care worker will mark the spot on your body to be operated on. Make sure they mark only the correct part and nowhere else. This helps avoid mistakes.

Marking usually happens when you are awake. Sometimes you cannot be awake for the marking. If this happens, a family member or friend or another health care worker can watch the marking. They can make sure that your correct body part is marked. Your neck, upper back or lower back will be marked if you are having spine surgery. The surgeon will check the exact place on your spine in the operating room after you are asleep.

Ask your surgeon if they will take a "time out" just before your surgery. This is done to make sure they are doing the right surgery on the right body part on the right person.

After your surgery
Tell your doctor or nurse about your pain. Hospitals and other surgical facilities that are accredited by The Joint Commission must help relieve your pain. Ask questions about medicines that are given to you, especially new medicines. What is it? What is it for? Are there any side effects? Tell your caregivers about any allergies you have to medicines. If you have more questions about a medicine, talk to your doctor or nurse before taking it.

Find out about any IV (intravenous) fluids that you are given. These are liquids that drip from a bag into your vein. Ask how long the liquid should take to "run out." Tell the nurse if it seems to be dripping too fast or too slow.

Smoking and Surgery