Our fundamental mission is to ensure our patients receive expert medical care in the safest environment possible, in both our inpatient and outpatient settings.
From housekeepers and dietitians to pharmacists, nurses and physicians, every member of our healthcare team plays a vital part in ensuring safe patient care. As a patient, however, you are the most important member of your health care team.
We welcome and urge you and your family to stay active, involved and informed about your condition and treatments. Following are ways you can make a difference and help safeguard your care during your hospital stay or outpatient visits.
Look – Always be aware of what is going on with your health.
Listen – Learn everything you can about your condition and treatment.
Ask – "Speak Up for Safety" when you are unsure of something.
Discuss Your Medications
Healthcare today is very complex, often involving multiple specialties and modes of treatment. To help guard against unsafe medication interactions or medication problems:
• Make sure your healthcare providers know about every medication you are taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, dietary and herbal supplements, and vitamins. Keep a current list of the names and amounts of medicines you take as well as how often you take them. Having copies of important medical information often can be helpful to you and your health care team.
• Tell your doctors and nurses about any allergies or unusual reactions you have had to any medications in the past.
• Check any medications you may receive while in the hospital or from a pharmacy and speak up if you are not familiar with the medication. Ask for information about your medicine to be explained in terms you can understand, and ask for written information about potential side effects. Do not be afraid to tell your pharmacist, doctor or nurse if you think you have received the wrong medication.
• Read labels and instructions carefully and take medications only as prescribed by your physician. Do not take any medications from home while you are a patient in the hospital unless you are specifically instructed by your physician to do so.
Question, Comment, Communicate
It is important for you to understand your condition and treatment plan. You and your doctor should discuss such things as who will be taking care of you, how long the treatment is expected to last, what tests and medications will be ordered, what they are expected to accomplish and how you are expected to respond. Don’t think you are bothering someone by asking questions or providing information.
• Make sure your healthcare provider has current health information about you and a detailed medical history.
• If you don’t understand something or question a course of treatment, share those concerns with your doctor or nurse.
• Don’t assume no news is good news. Ask about all of your test results.
• If something doesn’t seem quite right with the way you are feeling or responding to medication or treatment, tell someone on your health care team as soon as possible.
Stay Active & Informed
It is your right to make informed decisions regarding your health care. The more knowledge you have about your illness and alternatives available to you, the more confident you will be when making important decisions regarding your care and treatment.
• Use reliable health sources, such as your doctor, local libraries, Sarasota Memorial's Medical Library and reliable online health encyclopedias like Consumer Health Guide, to help you make informed decisions about your condition or treatment. Do not rely on one source for all of your information.
• Be sure to ask if you are unsure about the nature of your illness and treatment options or have questions. Your health and safety are too important to worry about being embarrassed about asking questions or expressing concerns.
• Take notes to help you remember facts and write down questions you have for your health care team.
• Read all medical forms thoroughly and make sure you understand the content before you sign them.
Preparing for Surgery
• Make sure you know what procedure is to be performed, along with the risks, benefits and alternatives. Talk with your surgeon to make sure you understand what the operation entails and both agree on the course of treatment.
• Before surgery, tell your surgeon, nurse and anesthesiologist about any medical allergies or reactions to any form of sedation or anesthesia.
• Take an active role in confirming the site of your surgery. Sarasota Memorial has procedures to mark the correct surgical area to be operated upon. You can double-check that your surgical site is clearly marked with a permanent marker with a "Y" for yes on the correct site.
• If you think something is wrong, say “stop” and get your issues clarified.
• Make sure your health care providers have the correct spelling of your full name and date of birth.
• When in the hospital, expect all members of your health care team to address you by your name and check your wristband before administering medicine or treatments.
• Hand washing is the most important way for you and health care workers to prevent the spread of infections. Hand sanitizers are installed in every patient room and throughout common areas and nursing stations in all of our facilities. It is our policy that staff and physicians wash their hands before and after contact with a patient. If the washing occurred outside your room, we encourage you to ask doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals to do so again in your room.
• Keep your hands clean by using an alcohol-based hand hygiene product or soap and water.
• In early fall of every year, ask your healthcare provider about getting the flu shot.
• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Discard used tissue, and wash your hands.
• Safely care for wounds and catheters by learning proper sterile or cleaning techniques.
Learn about antibiotic-resistant infections and how to prevent them.
Falls can lead to serious injuries. Please follow any instructions regarding getting out of bed, walking or using walkers or other medical equipment/aids.
Preventing Pressure Ulcers (Bed Sores)
Frequent turning and repositioning is important to protect skin and prevent pressure sores. If you have trouble turning yourself, please ask the nursing staff for help.
Find the Right Provider for Your Medical Care
People tend to experience better results when they are treated in hospitals that have a great deal of experience treating their condition.
• Talk to your primary care provider and work together to assess your healthcare needs. If you are referred to a specialist, ask about his or her experience. Also, ask your physician about which hospital or facility offers the best care for your condition.
• Choose an accredited hospital or other health care organization that, like Sarasota Memorial, undergoes regular, rigorous on-site surveys evaluating its compliance with established quality and safety standards, such as the Joint Commission.
• If you do not have a primary care provider, ask for recommendations. Sarasota Memorial's HealthLine can provide you with important information on scores of specialties and more than 750 physicians on our medical staff. Call (800) 764-8255 ext. 7777 or (941) 917-7777 (weekdays, 8a.m.-5 p.m.) to speak to a representative or browse our online physician directory to search for one by name or specialty.
Bring a Friend or Designate a Health Care Advocate
• Ask a trusted family member or friend to be involved and be an advocate for you. Serious illness and hospitalization can cause anxiety that decreases your focus and ability to question your care plan. Another person involved in your health care often can help by asking questions you may not think of, remembering the answers to questions already discussed, helping you with medical information and forms, or just being with you.
• You may also want to designate a health care surrogate to speak for you if you are unable to do so. Make sure this person understands your preferences for care and treatment, and if possible, put it in writing in a Living Will or Advance Directive. Sarasota Memorial has prepared a special booklet, Making Personal Choices, to help guide you through the process. If you have any questions, ask any member of your healthcare team for more information.
Leaving the Hospital
It is important for you to receive and understand your discharge instructions. This includes information about your medicines, diet, activity level, symptoms you might experience and what to do about them, treatments and follow-up appointments.
• Ask your doctor to explain the treatment plan you will use at home, what to look for and what to do if your condition gets worse.
• Make sure you can read the prescriptions, orders and instructions that are provided to you.
• If something unexpected develops, don’t wait for your follow-up appointment. Call your doctor immediately, or the hospital if your doctor is not available.
• Make sure you and anyone who will be involved with your care at home understands the type of care you will need and is familiar with any equipment and safety considerations that are being used in your care. For example, do not allow anyone to smoke while oxygen is in use.