Patient Safety Information

Share Information
We ask that you openly discuss your complete health history with your health care team. This includes any medicines you take, any surgeries you've had, or any allergies you may have. The more we know, the more successful your care plan and recovery will be.

In addition, if you have any questions or concerns about your condition or treatment, please be sure to ask. After all, it's your body and your health. And, if you are given a pill or a medication you don't recognize, ask to have it checked before you accept it. Simple questions can help stop a mistake from being made.

Provide Your Identification
For your safety, our team may ask you the same questions many times, including your full name and date of birth, to make sure you receive the correct treatment or services. They will most often do this before: giving a medication; taking blood or other samples; and other treatments or procedures. These steps help ensure you receive the best possible care.

Help Prevent Infections
Health care providers come into contact with many germs. That's why they should clean their hands with soap and water or use a special cleansing gel before treating you - even if they use gloves. Their hands should be cleaned before putting on new gloves, and gloves should be discarded after a single use. They should also wear clean gloves when they perform tasks like taking blood, touching wounds or body fluids, and examining you. Don't be afraid to ask your caregivers and your visitors and family members if they cleaned their hands or if they should wear gloves before touching you. You help everyone by speaking up. Also, don't forget to wash your own hands!

Another way to help prevent the spread of infections is through respiratory hygiene. Tell your caregivers immediately if you have flu symptoms, such as a cough or sneeze. Please cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put used tissues in a waste basket. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. You may also be asked to wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Always remember to clean your hands after coughing, sneezing, and using tissues.

Be Aware of Our Pre-Surgery / Procedure Precautions
Here's what you can expect staff to do prior to any surgery or procedure to help prevent errors:

  • Each doctor or nurse will ask you the same questions about your identity, procedure, and the site of the procedure. Don't be alarmed by these questions - this is how they make sure they have everything right.
  • Your doctor may also mark the spot on your body to be operated on before you go in to the procedure room.
  • In addition, you may be given an antibiotic medication to help prevent a surgical infection.
  • Just before the procedure begins, everyone in the room will conduct a "time out" and check for the last time that they are doing the right procedure on the right body part and on the right person.

The staff is taking these important steps to make sure that everything goes as planned for your surgery or procedure.

Notify Us of Any Change in Your Condition
If something doesn't seem right, or you feel that your condition is worsening, alert your nurse, who will assess your situation. In cases where a patient is experiencing a fast decline in their condition, the nurse may call the Rapid Response Team. The Rapid Response Team is a group of nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists trained to help in such situations. They are here to provide help before there is a medical emergency, such as a heart attack. If a noticeable medical change in the patient occurs and you feel the health care team is not recognizing or addressing the concern, you or your family member can call the Rapid Response Team from the hospital telephone.

Know How to Care for Yourself at Home
Recovering from an illness or injury can be challenging, and you and your family may be concerned about how you are going to manage your care after you are home. Your physician, nurses, Case Management team, and the hospital discharge team will give you written discharge instructions, and review them with you so that you understand how to care for yourself after you leave the hospital. It's important to follow these instructions for the best possible recovery. Staying healthy and safe once you get home is up to you. The more you know, the more in control of your health you will be. The hospitals of Meridian Health offer services for patients to assist with recovery after their return home.

Know Your Medications
Meridian Health is committed to providing high quality and safe patient care. This includes providing you with important information about your medications during your stay with us. If you have any questions or concerns, please discuss these with a member of your health care team.

Blood Thinners
Blood thinners are used to thin the blood so clots will not form. Harmful blood clots can cause a stroke, heart attack, or other serious problems. If you have an irregular heart rate, blood thinner therapy can decrease your risk for stroke 60 - 80 percent. Aspirin cannot lower your risk to that degree.

  • What are the common medications used to thin blood?
    Warfarin (Coumadin); Heparin; Enoxaparin (Lovenox); and Fondaparinux (Arixtra)
  • What will your health care team monitor?
    We will monitor signs or symptoms of bleeding and blood work. A blood test called a "protime" is done to determine if your therapy is correct, and is reported as an "INR" value. Changes in your dose are determined by your INR value.
  • Possible side effects and other things to tell your health care team about:
    Wheezing, chest tightness, fever, itching, bad cough, blue skin color, fits, or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; severe dizziness or passing out; severe headache, back or belly pain; black, tarry, or bloody stools; blood in the urine; nosebleeds; coughing up blood or vomiting blood; significant change in thinking clearly and logically; and change in skin color to black or purple.

Diabetes Medications

  • What are the common medications used to treat/control high blood sugar?
    Insulins such as Novolin/Novolog/Lantus/Levemir, Regular/Aspart/Glargine/Detimer; Oral Medications such as Metaformin/Diabeta/Glucotrol/Januvia/Avandia/Prandin, Metfromin/Glyburide/Glipizide/Sitagliptin/Rosiglitazone/Repaglinide
  • What will your health care team monitor?
    We will monitor glucose levels in your blood or through a finger-stick test, as well as other blood work like liver function.
  • Possible side effects and other things to tell your health care team about:
    Wheezing, chest tightness, fever, itching, bad cough, blue skin color, fits, or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; Low blood sugar. The signs include anger, shaking, fast heartbeat, confusion, or sweating.; Nausea or vomiting; Irritation where the shot is given; Any rash.

Pain Medications

  • What are the common medications used at Meridian?
    IV Drugs including Morphine/Hydromorphone/Meperidine Fentanyl; Oral Medications including Morphine/Oxycodone/Propoxyphene/Tramadol and Percocet/Oxycodone/Darvocet/Ultram.
  • What will your health care team monitor?
    We will monitor your pain as measured on a scale, and other blood work like liver function.
  • Possible side effects and other things to tell your health care team about:
    Wheezing, chest tightness, fever, itching, bad cough, blue skin color, fits, difficulty breathing, or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; Feeling lightheaded, sleepy, having blurred vision, or a change in thinking clearly; Feeling dizzy (rise slowly over several minutes from sitting or lying position); Severe dizziness or passing out; Nausea or vomiting; Severe nausea or vomiting; Constipation; Poor pain control; Any rash.

Antibiotics
Antibiotics are used to fight infection and to prevent possible infections (i.e. before surgery)

  • What are the common medications used at Meridian?
    Ampicillin/Sulbactam (Unasyn); Azithromycin (Zithromax); Cefazolin; Ceftriaxone; Ciprofloxacin (Lipro); Gentamycin; Moxifloxacin (Avelox); Metronidazole (Flagyl); Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim); and Vancomycin.
  • What will your health care team monitor?
    We will monitor your drug levels for some medications and other blood work like renal or liver function.
  • Possible side effects and other things to tell your health care team about:
    Wheezing, chest tightness, fever, itching, bad cough, blue skin color, fits, difficulty breathing, or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; severe dizziness or passing out; nausea or vomiting; diarrhea or constipation; stomach upset; and any rash.

Understanding & Preventing Blood Clots
Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) most often occur in people who can't move around well or who have had recent surgery or an injury. They can form in any deep veins of the body, but most often they form in the legs, arms, or groin. These clots can break loose and move to other parts of your body, including your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs is called a pulmonary embolism and can be life threatening.

During your stay, you will be assessed to find out if you are at risk for blood clots. If you are found to be at risk, your health care team may ask you to get out of bed and walk. They may also have special sleeves or boots applied to your lower legs to help blood flow better in your veins. Except for bathing, these boots should be kept on at all times until you can walk on a routine basis. Your doctor may also give you a blood thinner, or anticoagulant, to treat the clots.

Your Role in Preventing Blood Clots

  • Let your health care team know if you have had blood clots in the past
  • Get up and walk when you are able to do so and directed by your doctor
  • Keep your special boots on until you are back to walking
  • Keep as active as possible when you get home

Fall Prevention
At Meridian Health, we care about you and your safety and want to partner with you to prevent falls. Falls can happen, especially in a new environment and when you are being treated for illness or injury. Fall prevention is a partnership between Meridian Health, you, your family, and your visitors.

Our staff is educated in fall prevention and will use their best efforts to prevent a fall. A Fall Risk assessment is completed by your nurse at admission and every shift. Please discuss your individual fall risk with your nurse frequently.

You can also help prevent a fall. Here's a list of ways you can help:

  • Keep your call bell and personal items within your reach. If these items are out of reach, ask someone to move them closer so you can reach them.
  • If your doctor or nurse asks you not to get up unless someone is there to assist you, please follow their instructions. Use your call bell to call for help and do not get up until someone arrives.
  • Medications you are taking at home or in the hospital may increase your risk of falling. Please review them with your nurse.
  • Use your call bell to call for help when you need to go to the bathroom.
  • If you are attached to any equipment, use your call bell to call for assistance to get out of bed.
  • If your doctor or nurse says it's okay to get up from the bed or chair on your own, please get up slowly.
  • Always wear non-skid footwear (no flip-flops or open back slippers)
  • Do not lean on the bed side table or night table for support. They may move and cause you to fall.
  • Parents, do not leave your child alone! Please notify the nurse before you leave.

Questions or Concerns?
Meridian Health's hospitals are licensed by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and fully accredited by The Joint Commission, an independent quality organization which recognizes the efforts of organizations to provide high-quality care. Accreditation by The Joint Commission indicates that we comply with these standards and are constantly striving to improve our services.

If you have any concerns about the patient care or safety in our facilities, please contact the patient representative so we can promptly and directly address them. If your concerns cannot be resolved by the facility, you can also contact the Department of Health Complaint Hotline at 1-800-792-9770 or The Joint Commission at 1-800-994-6610 or via e-mail at complaint@jointcommission.org.