Patient Safety

Unfortunately, medical errors can happen. Being involved in your care and communicating clearly will help everyone work towards preventing errors.

Ask about your medications. Ask about the name of the medicine, the reason for it, and possible reactions to report. If the color, size or amount of your medication seems different, ask if the doctor has made changes. Do not take the medicine until the nurse has checked your name bracelet and answered any questions. Printed medication information is available.

Use your Medication List to help track your medications. This will help you and your family members keep track of all the medicines you are taking and provide your doctors with a current list of all your medications.

  • Always keep this list with you. You may want to fold it and keep it in your wallet along with your driver’s license so it will be available in case of an emergency.
  • Write down all medications you are taking along with a list of your allergies. Include any herbals, vitamins and over-the-counter mediations.
  • Take this list to all doctor’s appointments, tests and procedures and hospital visits.
  • Write down all changes made to your medications on this list. If you stop taking a certain medicine, draw a line through it and write the date that you stopped. If help is needed, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to help you keep it current.
  • In the Purpose column, write down why you are taking the medication (i.e. high blood pressure, high blood sugar, etc.).
  • When you are discharged from the hospital, someone will visit with you about which medicines to take and which medicines to stop taking. Since many changes are often made after a hospital stay, a new list should be filled out.

Before surgery, be sure everyone agrees with what will be done. Discuss the surgery with your surgeon. Your nurse will help you mark the site to be operated. Be sure you are in complete agreement for the surgery before you go to the operating room.

We encourage you and your family to be involved. Discuss your activity, diet and other care needs with your doctor and nurse. This will help everyone feel more comfortable and aware of the plan of care. Staying informed will also reduce anxiety and concerns.

Tips for Being Involved

Provide information. Staff will ask questions about your health.  It is very important to give accurate information to ensure appropriate care. Be sure to report all drug and food allergies, prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, herbal products, home remedies and dietary supplements you are taking. Also report if you are participating in a research study. This will help you avoid taking any new medicine that might cause problems.

Check your name bracelet. Look at your name bracelet to be sure all information is accurate and legible. If something is not correct or cannot be read, please inform your nurse. Your bracelet will be checked to be sure that care is being given to the correct patient.

Leave medicines at home. Please do not bring medicines from home to the hospital. Instead, make a list of current medicines you take to include name, dose, how often you take the medicine, and the last time you took it. It is very important to your safety that your caregivers are aware of all medicines you are taking. This will help to prevent drug reactions. Any medicines you happen to have with you should be given to your nurse if your family cannot take them home. There are many problems that could occur if patients take their own medicines while in the hospital, such as confusion, receiving too much medicine, not taking the medications as doctor ordered and/or not limiting water and medicines as required by tests or treatment.

Leave valuables at home. Please leave jewelry, money and things of personal value at home or with a family member. There is limited space in the hospital for storing valuables. If you bring contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids or dentures with you, also bring the case so the items can be put away carefully when not in use. Unfortunately, the hospital cannot be responsible for lost or stolen items.

Take an active role in your care. Be a partner in making decisions about your care. Explain your wishes and concerns so everyone can work to meet your needs. Ask your nurse about options for treatment—the benefits, risks and side effects.

Medical equipment, including catheters and drainage tubes are often necessary to provide care. Since catheters and drainage tubes are all entry points for infection, talk with your doctor about when these can be safely removed. Let your nurse know if a catheter or tube leaks or moves out of place. If you have an intravenous (IV) catheter, keep the skin around the dressing clean and dry. Tell your nurse promptly if any dressing, including a wound dressing, is loose or wet.

Write down the diagnosis, treatment, follow-up plan and what you can do. Medical terms can be hard to understand. Ask for words to be explained. Also write down any questions so these can be answered.

Help prevent antibiotic resistance. Even in the 21st century, infection problems can arise during hospital stays or after surgery. McAlester Regional has a comprehensive infection control program. You, as the patient, can be an important part of the health care team to help prevent infection. The following tips are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more information refer to

  • Ask your doctor if you need to be vaccinated against diseases that may cause respiratory infections, including influenza and pneumonia.  Preventing these infections can decrease antibiotic use.
  • If you are diabetic, discuss with your doctor the best way to control your blood sugar before, during and after your hospital stay.  High blood sugar increases the risk of infection.
  • If you smoke, consider a stop smoking program.  This will reduce your chance of having a lung infection while in the hospital.  It may also help you to heal after surgery.
  • Some patients are on “isolation precautions.” This is usually done to protect the patient and others from infection.  If you are in “isolation,” understand what this means and what you should expect from the hospital staff or visitors.  Gloves, gowns and masks are sometimes needed, depending on the illness.
  • Ask your friends and relatives not to visit in the hospital if they feel ill.

Help prevent a fall while in the hospital. Follow your doctor’s orders about getting out of bed. Use the call light to notify staff or your nurse. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

A fall risk assessment is conducted on every patient to see what your chances of having a fall would be. If you are identified as having a risk for a fall, a “lamp” emblem will be placed on your hospital room door to alert all staff members. This is for your safety.
Bed alarms are another method we use to keep you safe. If you are identified as being at risk of falling, a bed alarm may be attached to your bed to alert staff when you are out of bed. Please do not disconnect these alarms. They are for your safety.

Always alert your nurse before you leave your patient room for any reason (except if you are being escorted to a treatment area such as surgery or X-ray). Leaving your patient room, especially with IVs, blood administration or oxygen, can place your health and safety at risk.

Ask if there are videos you can watch to understand your diagnosis, treatment and maintaining your health.

Follow your treatment plan for better health. Follow your doctor’s orders about taking medicines and breathing treatments. Don’t be afraid to ask for pain medicine when you hurt.

Clean your hands.  Use soap and warm water, rub your hands really well for about 15 seconds.  Or if your hands do not look dirty, clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.  Don’t forget to wash under your nails and between your fingers.

Make sure health care providers clean their hands and wear gloves. Doctors, nurses and other health care providers come into contact with lots of bacteria and viruses, so before they treat you, ask them if they’ve cleaned their hands. Health care workers should wear gloves when they perform tasks such as taking throat cultures, taking blood, touching wounds or body fluids. Don’t be afraid to gently remind them to wear gloves.

Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Many diseases are spread through sneezes and coughs. Use a tissue – keep them handy. Throw away used tissues and remember to then clean your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cover your mouth and nose with the bend of your elbow or hands. If you use your hands, wash them right away.

Avoid close contact. If you’re sick with a contagious disease, even a cold, ask your visitors to stay home until after you are fully recovered.

A family member or friend’s help with your care provides personal attention and emotional involvement that can assist healing. Family and friends may help by staying in the room and/or by hiring professional sitters. Your private insurance may not cover the daily costs of hiring professional sitters. If you choose to have professional sitter services, please ask your nurse to contact our Social Services Department for a referral.

Others can help by

  • Making menu selections and feeding
  • Offering water, juice or snacks
  • Aiding in bathing, grooming and mouth care
  • Assisting with walking
  • Reading, writing letters, assisting with phone calls
  • Keeping family and friends informed of the patient’s progress
  • Managing concerns outside of the hospital

Family and friends can help by alerting the staff. Sometimes patients become confused or unsteady walking in the hospital even though they were doing fine at home. Medicines, illness and unfamiliar surroundings may cause the changes.

When caring for a loved one, tell staff if you notice any confusion or unsteadiness. With your help, we can be sure side rails and other safety measures are used when needed. Also, tell staff when you leave or step away for a few minutes so staff can resume safety checks and precautions.

Discuss any symptoms or changes in your health with your doctor. This will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and assist in managing any problems. Also tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection such as:

  • fever
  • chills
  • drainage or swelling from a wound
  • more pain
  • Treating Children

If you notice any of the signs or symptoms below, you need to call the Rapid Response.

  • Changes in the heart or respiratory (breathing) rate
  • A drop in blood pressure (it gets much lower or higher)
  • Changes in urinary output (much more or much less urine)
  • Confusion or other mental status (thinking) changes
  • When something just does not look or seem right with the patient

How is the team called?

  • Dial 7-7-7-7 from any MRHC telephone
  • Tell the operator to activate the rapid response team to the patient’s location

Children under the age of 10 should have an adult parent or other legal guardian stay with them overnight. A sleeping chair and meals will be provided to those adults staying with the child.

  • Ask a health care provider to review with you and a caregiver all medicines you should keep taking.
  • Update your medicine list.
  • Inform your primary health care provider, including your pharmacist, about any medicine changes that occurred in the hospital.

If you feel that MRHC has put you or a family member at risk, please contact the Risk Managers by calling 918-421-6674MondayFriday between the hours of 08:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The patient advocate hotline is also available 24 hours a day at 1-844-430-9504 through the Oklahoma Department of Health & Human Services Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

McAlester Regional Health Center’s HOMES program was developed by hospital experts to improve patient safety while reducing the amount of opioids prescribed. This program is being presented to hospitals and physicians around the country who also want to reduce the use of opioids to improve the safety of their patients.