Your Care - Patient Safety

Patient Safety is a top priority at Washington Health System Washington Hospital. There are hundreds of people who work hard every day to make sure your experience at the hospital is safe. In Pennsylvania, all hospitals are mandated to report certain patient safety events to the state’s Patient Safety Authority. When serious events occur,
patients are given letters that acknowledge that patients and/or families have been made aware of serious events.


The hospital’s patient safety program focuses primarily on the following areas:

  • Patient identification
  • Infections
  • Medication errors
  • Surgical errors
  • Skin integrity
  • Patient falls


Patient Identification
Staff that administer medications, transport patients, or perform procedures and treatments must check two patient identifiers such as birth date and name prior to proceeding. At times, you may be asked the same identifying questions repeatedly. We are aware that this process may be annoying to patients. Please understand however, that this verification process is a critical component in our patient safety program in order to guarantee that patients receive the correct medications and treatments.


Medication Errors
The hospital has systems and processes that provide multiple checks and balances to ensure that medication errors rarely, if ever, occur. The hospital has implemented a program for “bar-coding” all medications and patients. A nurse will scan the patient’s armband and then the medication before it is
given to make sure he or she has the right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, and right route. The hospital takes great pride in maintaining one of the lowest medication error rates in the region.


Surgical Errors
Before every surgery or invasive procedure begins, the healthcare team performs a “time-out” to verify that the patient, type of procedure, site of the procedure, and necessary equipment and diagnostic studies are all correct. Doctors often “mark” the surgical site on the patient prior to the start of a procedure.


Skin Integrity
At admission, the condition of each patient’s skin is assessed to identify skin breakdown or the potential for skin breakdown, such as pressure ulcers or “bed-sores.” Specific actions can be taken to prevent or treat identified skin issues, including frequent re-positioning and turning in bed. In the event that a skin breakdown does occur, a nurse specialist is available for consultation to your physician.


Patient Falls
On admission, each patient is interviewed to try to identify those patients at high risk for falling in the hospital. Most patients are considered to be at some risk for falls within the hospital due to such factors as being in an unfamiliar environment and medication side effects. Multiple interventions can be implemented for patients at risk to try to prevent falls and injuries.


In addition to the items listed previously, you can also:

  • Seek information about your illness or health concern
  • Ask a family member or friend to be your advocate
  • Understand your instructions and ask questions if you do not understand
  • If something doesn’t seem right, tell your doctor or health care professional


Do not be afraid to tell someone if you think you are about to receive the wrong treatment, medication, or procedure.