Our Culture of Safety

Griffin Hospital is committed to ensuring a safe environment for our patients, visitors, and staff. As part of our hospital-wide culture of safety, our goal is to provide patient-centered, safe, equitable, timely, effective, and efficient care. We encourage our patients (and their family members) to ask questions about their treatment and to be actively involved in their care and safety.

If you have any concerns about your care and safety while a patient at Griffin Hospital, we strongly encourage you to speak to your nurse, physician, or any other Griffin Hospital staff member. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to your nurse or physician about your care and safety concerns, you may call the Patient Safety and Care Improvement Office at 203.732.7111.

Should you have any concerns about your care and safety that Griffin Hospital cannot resolve, we encourage you to contact the Joint Commission?s Office of Quality Monitoring by calling (toll-free) 800.994.6610 or e-mailing complaint@jcaho.org.

Patient Empowerment

As a Planetree hospital, our goal is to ensure that you have the information and education you need to be a partner in your care. We encourage you to ask questions about your treatment and to view your medical record, which your nurse can help you read and understand.

Once again, our goal is to ensure that you have the education and information you need to be a partner in your care. Some of that information is included in this section of our website, which explains your rights as a patient of Griffin Hospital, our "Speak Up" program -- which urges you to be actively involved in your care -- and our hospital-wide Fall Prevention Program.

"Speak Up" to Help Prevent Errors in Your Care

Everyone has a role in making healthcare safe -- physicians, healthcare executives, nurses and technicians, and patients. To help prevent healthcare errors at Griffin Hospital, we participate in the Joint Commission's "Speak Up" program, which urges patients to get involved in their care. You, as the patient, can play a vital role in making your care safe by becoming an active, involved, and informed member of your healthcare team.

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report has identified the occurrence of medical errors as a serious problem in the healthcare system. The IOM recommends, among other things, that a concerted effort be made to improve the public's awareness of the problem.

The "Speak Up" program, sponsored by the Joint Commission, urges patients to get involved in their care. Such efforts to increase consumer awareness and involvement are supported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Research shows that patients who take part in decisions about their healthcare are more likely to have better outcomes. Some simple advice on how you, the patient, can "Speak Up" to help make your care a positive experience follows:

Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.

  • Your health is too important to worry about being embarrassed if you don't understand something that your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional tells you.
  • Don't be afraid to ask about safety. If you're having surgery, for example, ask the doctor to mark the area that is to be operated upon, so that there's no confusion in the operating room.
  • Don't be afraid to tell the nurse or the doctor if you think you are about to receive the wrong medication.
  • Don't hesitate to tell the healthcare professional if you think he or she has confused you with another patient.

Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you're getting the right treatments and medications by the right healthcare professionals. Don't assume anything.

  • Tell your nurse or doctor if something doesn't seem quite right.
  • Expect healthcare workers to introduce themselves when they enter your room and look for their identification badges. A new mother, for example, should know the person to whom she is handing her baby. If you are unsure, ask.
  • Notice whether your caregivers have washed their hands. Hand washing is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections. Don't be afraid to gently remind a doctor or nurse to do this.
  • Know what time of day you normally receive a medication. If it doesn't happen, bring this to the attention of your nurse or doctor.
  • Make sure your nurse or doctor confirms your identity, that is, checks your wristband, or asks your name, before he or she administers any medication or treatment.

Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.

  • Ask your doctor about the specialized training and experience that qualifies him or her to treat your illness (and be sure to ask the same questions of those physicians to whom he or she refers you).
  • Gather information about your condition. Good sources include your doctor, your library, respected websites and support groups.
  • Write down important facts your doctor tells you, so that you can look for additional information later. And ask your doctor if he or she has any written information you can keep.
  • Thoroughly read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything. If you don't understand, ask your doctor or nurse to explain them.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the operation of any equipment that is being used in your care. If you will be using oxygen at home, do not smoke or allow anyone to smoke near you while oxygen is in use.

Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.

  • Your advocate can ask questions that you may not think of while you are under stress.
  • Ask this person to stay with you, even overnight, when you are hospitalized. You will be able to rest more comfortably and your advocate can help to make sure you get the right medications and treatments.
  • Your advocate can also help remember answers to questions you have asked, and speak up for you if you cannot.
  • Make sure this person understands your preferences for care and your wishes concerning resuscitation and life support.
  • Review consents for treatment with your advocate before you sign them and make sure you both understand exactly what you are agreeing to.
  • Make sure your advocate understands the type of care you will need when you get home. Your advocate should know what to look for if your condition is getting worse and whom to call for help.

Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common healthcare mistakes.

  • Ask about the purpose of the medication and ask for written information about it, including its brand and generic names. Also inquire about the side effects of the medication.
  • If you do not recognize a medication, verify that it is for you. Ask about oral medications before swallowing, and read the contents of bags of intravenous (IV) fluids. If you're not well enough to do this, ask your advocate to do this.
  • 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 (that it is too fast or too slow).
  • Whenever you are going to receive a new medication, tell your doctors and nurses about allergies you have, or negative reactions you have had to medications in the past.
  • If you are taking multiple medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take those medications together. This holds true for vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter drugs, too.
  • Make sure you can read the handwriting on any prescriptions written by your doctor. If you can't read it, the pharmacist may not be able to either.

Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of healthcare organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established, state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by Joint Commission.

  • Ask about the healthcare organization's experience in treating your type of illness. How frequently do they perform the procedure you need and what specialized care do they provide in helping patients get well?
  • If you have more than one hospital or other facility to choose from, ask your doctor which one offers the best care for your condition.
  • Before you leave the hospital or other facility, ask about follow-up care and make sure that you understand all of the instructions.
  • Go to Quality Check at www.jcaho.org to find out whether your hospital or other healthcare organization is accredited.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the healthcare team.

  • You and your doctor should agree on exactly what will be done during each step of your care.
  • Know who will be taking care of you, how long the treatment will last, and how you should feel.
  • Understand that more tests or medications may not always be better.
  • Ask your doctor what a new test or medication is likely to achieve.
  • Keep copies of your medical records from previous hospitalizations and share them with your healthcare team. This will give them a more complete picture of your health history.
  • Don't be afraid to seek a second opinion. If you are unsure about the nature of your illness and the best treatment, consult with one or two additional specialists. The more information you have about the options available to you, the more confident you will be in the decisions made.
  • Ask to speak with others who have undergone the procedure you are considering. These individuals can help you prepare for the days and weeks ahead. They also can tell you what to expect and what worked best for them as they recovered.

Fall Prevention Program

Griffin Hospital is focused on preventing falls, which are the leading cause of injury, hospitalization, and death in older adults. Approximately 20-30% of falls result in moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures or head trauma, which can lead to decreased mobility, loss of independence, and an increased risk of premature death.

Because the risk of falling increases dramatically during hospitalization, we will conduct a fall risk assessment when you are admitted. To help us keep you safe, please tell your nurse if you have any of the following conditions that may increase your risk of falling:

A recent history of falls

  • Dizziness
  • Diminished vision
  • Problems with walking and balance
  • Lower body weakness or numbness
  • Urinary frequency and urgency
  • A history of heart arrhythmias
  • A history of stroke or seizure

Please be aware of the following factors that may also increase your risk of falling:

  • Anesthesia
  • Pain medication
  • Cardiac and antihypertensive medications
  • Taking multiple medications (4 or more)
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Decreased fluid intake/dehydration
  • Infection
  • Attachment to medical equipment such as IV's, oxygen tubing
  • Poorly fitting or improper footwear
  • An unfamiliar environment
  • Belief that asking for help is inappropriate

During your stay, hospital staff may take extra precautions to keep you safe, such as placing a red bracelet on your wrist to alert others of an increased risk of falling, or utilizing bed alarms or other special safety devices. We ask that you help us ensure your safety and prevent falls by:

  • Having your call bell within reach
  • Calling for assistance before getting out of bed
  • Getting up slowly -- sit on the side of the bed before rising
  • Sitting down immediately if you are dizzy and asking for assistance
  • Using handrails in the bathroom and hallways
  • Wearing well fitted, non-slip proof footwear
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Talking with your doctors and nurses about your medications and their side effects

Please remember, your safety is extremely important to us. Please alert staff about any safety concerns you may have, and feel free to ask questions or request assistance if needed.


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