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Simple steps to keep you safe during your hospital stay

While you are in hospital, keeping you safe and well is a priority for the staff looking after you. There are also some simple things you can do to help keep yourself safe during your hospital stay, such as asking for help when needed, protecting yourself from slips and falls and helping to prevent blood clots.

The NHS England National Patient Safety Team have created a video and a leaflet ‘Simple steps to keep you safe during your hospital stay’ (which is also available in other languages) providing tips on keeping yourself safe during your hospital stay. The information provided below.

Ask for help if you don’t understand

It’s important that you understand what staff are explaining to you, and that you can tell us if you need any assistance, have any additional needs, or have any questions or concerns. So please ask if you need extra help to communicate, or need support from a friend, carer or family member.

Check your hospital wristband

You’ll be given a wristband to tell staff who you are. Staff will regularly check this to confirm you’re the right patient before they give you medication or carry out tests. So it’s important to tell someone right away if any of the information is wrong. Staff will also ask if you have any allergies, such as to medicines, foods or materials like latex or plasters.

Tell us about your medicines

If you bring any of your own medicines into hospital, make sure you tell a member of staff before taking them, including any pain relief, vitamins or supplements you bought yourself. This is important as they can sometimes react with any new medication or treatments you might be given in hospital. Also remember to tell us if you have any medical alert cards or use any devices, for example, an insulin pump. If you don’t understand what any new medicines you’re given in hospital are for; why you need to take them; or have questions about possible side effects; please ask a member of staff to explain.

Protect yourself from slips and falls

If you’re walking around in hospital, even just to go to the toilet, wear the right kind of footwear. This could be snug fitting slippers, or shoes with rubber soles such as trainers. Remember to use any walking aid that you’d normally use. And put on your glasses and hearing aids before walking around, if you have them. If you need any support, use the call bell and a member of staff will help you.

Take steps to stop blood clots

To make sure you don’t get blood clots you might need to have injections to thin your blood, and you may need to wear hospital stockings. You will also need to move around as often as you can. Take short walks if you’re able to, and do some simple leg and ankle exercises. Unless staff have told you not to drink water or other fluids, for example, before surgery, make sure you drink plenty to keep yourself well hydrated. Regularly change position in bed It’s important to regularly change your position to help stop pressure ulcers, which can be painful. If you find it hard to move, ask a member of staff for help. They can also get you a special mattress or cushions if you need them.

Help prevent infections

To stop sickness bugs spreading around the hospital, it’s really important to wash your hands after going to the toilet and before all meals. And don’t be afraid to ask staff and visitors if they've washed their hands before any contact with you. Tell a member of staff right away if you have any diarrhoea or vomiting. And if you have any tubes or needles attached to you, let staff know if they become sore or uncomfortable.

When it's time to home

When it’s time to go home, make sure you understand when you’ll receive your hospital discharge letter and any follow up appointments. If you’ve been given any medicines to take at home, you know what they’re for and how to take them. And that you know who to contact if you have any questions about your care or follow up arrangements. Remember, the staff caring for you in hospital are there to keep you safe and well. But we want you to be a partner in your care, so just ask if you have any questions, worries or concerns.

Simple steps to keep you safe during your hospital stay video

Simple steps to keep you safe during your hospital stay video (BSL version)