How SAFE are You in the Hospital?


How safe are you in the hospital? No really, I’m asking you, how safe do you think you are in the hospital? Johns Hopkins did an eight year research study which showed that over 250,000 patients a year die from medical errors. That medical errors are the THIRD leading cause of death.

med errors

That one in every three people admitted to the hospital will experience a medical error. Let’s repeat that, 33% of everyone in the hospital will receive treatment not meant for them. One more time, if you are in a private room either you or one of the people on either side of you will experience care that is not optimal, but rather, was actually WRONG.

mountain top

Let me say right here, let me shout it from the mountain top, I am a nurse advocate. I have been a nurse, in a hospital for over 20 years. I believe that God has given nurses and doctors the ability and the skill to heal with His assistance. I believe that hospitals are places of healing and growth. But I also want you to be aware of the real danger that you are in.

I asked nurses nationwide and in all different disciplines of nursing “Any thoughts on how to make patients safer in the hospital?” Boy did I get an earful. Some were serious, some not so much. My favorite response came from Jenna, a flight nurse, ” No idea! I thought it was so dangerous I left to fly around in helicopters. Much Safer!” Other ideas ranged from bubble wrap to donuts. (BTW, nurses like donuts as much as law enforcement officers)

When I asked nurses how to make patients safer in the hospital there were many answers and we will discuss these but today we are going to focus on the most brought up topic. Over and over again nurses said the same thing.


However, the overwhelming answer from nurses nationwide was simple, HANDWASHING. “When my dad had surgery I told him to make sure everyone who touched him washed their hands first.” “Ask the staff to wash their hands” “No one touches me without me seeing them wash their hands” Just a few quotes from nurses.

The CDC says handwashing is a simple but effective way to prevent infection, including those that are resistant to infection. According to the CDC 1 in every 25 patients get a healthcare acquired infection. Many of these are preventable by something so simple as handwashing.


When I asked these nurses how they would feel if a patient asked them to wash their hands before touching them none of them said they would be offended. One nurse said she none of her patients would need to ask her, she makes sure they see her “gelling in.” No one I asked said they would be offended if a patient/family asked them to wash/gel before performing care.

hand hygiene

A couple of years ago as I was performing my leadership rounds I gelled in as I always do then I shook hands with everyone in the room. As I was leaving the room our infection prevention director caught me before I could gel out and put my hand on a petri dish. Oh my goodness, the things that grew off that petri dish…….. I will never forget. And I will always wash/gel my hands.

I get it. You don’t want to offend your nurse, what kind of care will you receive?

I get it. You don’t want to get anyone in trouble.

I get it. I just don’t want you to get it!

Talk to you soon!

Michelle On Your Side



One thought on “How SAFE are You in the Hospital?

  1. It’s scary what can happen. I saw it with my father when the wrong med was prescribed to him for a UTI secondary to bladder cancer. He ended up septic because of the error. But with an EMT, a nurse, and an epidemiologist in the family, it was caught and addressed before it became tragic.


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