Medications from home

Please do not bring or have others bring any medications, alcohol, or other toxic substances (prescription, over-the-counter or illegal drugs) to the hospital. These may complicate or endanger the healing process. All medications you take as a patient at the hospital should be prescribed by your hospital physician and must be dispensed by the hospital pharmacy and administered by, or under the supervision of, hospital staff. Patients are not permitted to administer their own medications or to keep personal medications unless approved by their physician.

Occasionally, the hospital may not have a medication you take at home available in our pharmacy. In this circumstance, if ordered by your physician, your nurse will ask you to provide your own medication which will then be bar-coded by the hospital pharmacy and dispensed to you by your nurse. It will be kept in the medication room during your visit and returned to you at the time of discharge.

All medication brought with you from home needs to be sent home. If you are unable to do this, alert your nurse and it will be securely stored. Medications will be returned upon discharge from the hospital.

If you are concerned that you are not receiving medication you regularly take at home, please talk to your nurse or physician. It helps for all of your health care providers to know what medications you usually take.

Safety awareness

While you’re in the hospital:

  1. Expect all health care workers to introduce themselves when they enter your room. Be sure to look for their identification badges. If you do not see identification, ask the person to introduce him or herself and tell you his or her role in your care.
  2. Learn about your condition and treatments by asking your doctor or nurse. Write down important facts.
  3. Read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything. If you don’t understand the form, ask a doctor or registered nurse to explain to you.
  4. If you are given an IV, ask the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to run out. Tell the nurse if it doesn’t seem to be dripping properly (too fast or too slow).
  5. Ask about test results. Do not make assumptions.
  6. Make sure your doctors, nurses and pharmacists know about everything you are taking. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
  7. Ask why you are taking the medications prescribed and given to you.
  8. If you do not recognize the name of a medicine, make sure it is for you.
  9. Make sure your doctors, nurses and pharmacists know about allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
  10. When your doctor writes a prescription, make sure you can read it.

It’s also important to:

  • Make sure health care providers clean their hands and wear gloves when appropriate. Doctors, nurses and other health care providers come into contact with a lot of bacteria and viruses. So before they treat you, ask them if they’ve cleaned their hands. Health care providers should wear clean gloves when they perform tasks such as taking throat cultures, taking blood, touching wounds or body fluids, and examining you. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they should be wearing gloves.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. Many diseases are spread through sneezes and coughs. When you sneeze or cough, the germs can travel six feet or more. Cover your mouth and nose to prevent the spread of infection to others.
  • Use a tissue! Keep tissues handy. Be sure to throw away used tissues and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing. 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, clean them right away with soap and water or with hand sanitizer. Always avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands to prevent transferring germs from your hands to your face.
  • Be cautious of IV lines. Patients who need frequent intravenous (IV) medications, blood, fluid replacement and/or nutrition may have a central venous catheter (or “line”) placed into one of their veins. This line can stay in place for days and even weeks. Lines often are very helpful, but sometimes they cause infections when bacteria grow in the line and spread to the patient’s bloodstream. This line should be used mainly for giving medication or fluid. When blood sampling is necessary, the phlebotomist, nurse or patient care technician performing the blood draw will take every precaution to minimize your discomfort. Blood draws from IV lines, including central and peripherally inserted central lines, is strongly discouraged and used only in extreme circumstances and only with a physician’s order, due to risk of infection. Be sure the doctors and nurses check the line every day for signs of infection.
  • Ask someone to speak on your behalf if you are not up to it. You may name a family member or friend to be your designated “lay” caregiver. If you feel you are too ill to speak up and ask questions about your care and safety, or just need another person to listen, please designate a lay caregiver to be your advocate.
  • Honor our Zone of Silence while nurses are giving medicine. When nurses are called away or distracted when giving medicine, it can lead to mistakes. To prevent this, please do not talk with or interrupt our nurses when they are handling medications. They will be happy to talk with you after the medications are given.
  • Take care to prevent falling. If you are at high risk for falling, hospital personnel will assist you in getting in and out of bed. For your safety, we ask that you call for assistance. A nurse or patient care technician may need to stay with you while you are in the bathroom. Please know that we will do everything we can to respect your privacy and dignity at all times.
  • Prevent pressure injuries (pressure ulcers or bedsores) if you are bedridden. Pressure injuries can occur in any part of the body where pressure is applied to the skin and underlying tissues for too long. Decreased blood flow to the area can cause the skin to break down into a wound. While you’re in the hospital, your nurse will inspect your skin regularly, but it’s important for you to report any skin discomfort or changes. If you’re unable to change positions regularly on your own, we will help you move as needed. It’s important to eat a healthy diet and to keep skin clean and dry to prevent pressure wounds from forming. If you need additional measures (e.g., special beds, skin products) to prevent skin breakdown while hospitalized, your doctor will order these for you.

Patient identification

Always wear your ID bracelet. Your special ID bracelet states your name, hospital number, physician’s name and other important information. Your ID bracelet will be checked often during your stay. Please wear it at all times to prevent delays with important tests and treatments. If your ID bracelet is damaged or lost, please let your nurse know immediately.

In addition, our staff will ask you to state two patient identifiers (such as your name and date of birth) throughout your stay; i.e., upon admission, transfer and discharge, prior to medication being provided to you, at meal tray service, prior to surgery, invasive procedures, or other diagnostic studies/therapeutic interventions, specimen collection, and transfusion. This is for your safety and to prevent misidentification (wrong patient) errors.

To enhance patient safety, Main Line Health has adopted the state standard color designations for patient wristbands.

Red = allergy
For patients who have an allergy to anything

Yellow = fall risk
For patients who need extra assistance when walking so they don’t fall

Pink = restricted extremity
For patients whose condition(s) prohibits the use of a certain extremity (e.g., hand, arm)

Gray = procedure side
For patients undergoing a procedure, to clearly identify the side where the procedure should take place when unable to mark the site

Blue = similar name
For patients with a last name similar to another patient, to help avoid misidentification

Smoking

All Main Line Health hospitals are smoke-free facilities—inside and out. Smoking and/or the use of any tobacco products is not permitted anywhere in the hospital or on hospital grounds. This policy includes all cigarette-like products, such as e-cigarettes. Patients who use tobacco should speak with their physician or nurse about a nicotine substitute.

Fire and disaster drills

State regulations require hospitals to conduct periodic fire and disaster drills. Do not be disturbed if you see or hear a practice drill in progress. The door to your room may close automatically during these drills. You will receive instructions from hospital personnel in the event of an actual emergency.

Handwashing policy

We wash or sanitize our hands before and after all patient care activities. If you do not see health care workers washing or sanitizing their hands upon entering your room to care for you, we want you to speak up and ask the staff members to wash or sanitize their hands. You also may ask to speak to the manager who will speak with the staff member.

Preventing blood clots and complications

Hospitalized patients may be at greater risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE), a disease that includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT or blood clots) that can form in the legs or arms and travel to other parts of the body, including the lungs, which may result in a pulmonary embolism. Because VTE can cause serious health complications and even death, it is important to follow these preventive measures:

  • Avoid crossing your legs.
  • Perform ankle pump exercises when in bed to get your blood moving.
  • Get out of bed for walks if it is safe for you to do so. If you have any questions about this, please ask the doctors and nurses caring for you.
  • Wear sequential compression devices (SCDs) and/or compression stockings as prescribed to improve blood flow in the lower extremities.

In some cases, anticoagulant medications (blood thinners) may be ordered by your doctor. Should you have any new discomfort (pain, swelling, redness) in your lower legs, or if you develop shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness, it is important to report this to the doctors and nurses caring for you.