Patient Safety Information

patient safety at the miriam hospital

Questions or Concerns with Your Stay

For questions or to discuss concerns, contact the following:

The Miriam Hospital Patient Safety Hotline
401-793-7233 or 793-7233 (793-SAFE)

Rhode Island Department of Health
401-222-2566

The Joint Commission Office of Quality Monitoring
1-800-994-6610 or complaint@jointcommission.org

The Miriam Hospital is committed to providing excellent patient care. One part of this commitment is patient safety. You can help us by being informed and taking an active role in your care. You are a partner with our staff in improving your health and wellbeing.

The best way to ensure your safety is to:

  • Be a well-informed patient.
  • Be an active part of your health care team.
  • Be aware of what is happening.

We hope you will feel comfortable asking questions and sharing your concerns.

Please Review Our Health Care Checklist

Click on a headline below to expand each section of our health care checklist. 

Make Sure All Medicines You Take Are Intended for You

Your nurse will check your identity by looking at your wristband before giving you any medications, and before any procedure or test. Before the nurse administers the medicine, ask the nurse the name of the medicine. Please be aware that while you are in the hospital, your medication schedule, which is ordered by your physician, may differ slightly from your schedule at home. Ask for information about your medications. Understand what your medications are, what they do and what side effects they might have.

Make Sure Those Caring for You Have Cleaned Their Hands

To prevent the spread of infection, members of your health care team wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before entering and upon leaving your room. You are encouraged to clean your hands after using the toilet. Family members should wash their hands before entering and when exiting your hospital room.
Other ways to prevent the spread of infections include:

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoiding close contact with those who are sick
  • Getting appropriate vaccines
  • Wearing a mask to protect others if you are asked to do so

If You Are Having Surgery, Make Sure You Understand the Details of the Procedure

Write down all your questions so you remember to ask them during the visit with your physician. Make sure you and your surgeon are in agreement. Watch to be sure that team members mark the correct part of your body to be operated on. Make sure all your questions are answered before you give consent for a procedure or surgery. 

Understand Your Treatment Plan and What You Should and Should Not Do When You Return Home

Ask questions and repeat the answers to your caregivers to ensure that you understand your plan of care. If you feel your questions are not being answered, ask again. If you think of questions when your nurse or doctor is not present, write them down so that you can ask them at a later time. All too often, miscommunication and misunderstanding occur on the part of both caregivers and patients.

Make sure your caregiver at home understands the treatment plan and is able to take care of your health needs. If not, please tell your nurse or case manager. Involve a friend or family member in your care to help you ask questions and
understand care instructions.

Be Sure to Share Your Important Health Information with All Health Professionals Involved in Your Care

Keep a copy of your health history, including prior illnesses, tests and test results, surgeries, medicines and other treatments. Keep track of your medical history, allergies, medications and any reactions or sensitivities to medications. Share it with your health care provider. Give accurate and complete information about all matters related to your health. Expect to be repeatedly asked about your name, date of birth and health information.

Find out Why a Test or Treatment Is Required

Ask about the results of your tests. If you don’t receive your test results within the timeframe your doctor advised, ask your nurse. In certain circumstances, when a patient is confused or disoriented, a family member or companion is encouraged to stay throughout the night.

Pay Attention to Your Condition

If you or a family member are uncomfortable or worried about a change in your condition, please seek assistance from your nurse. He or she will initiate a call to the Rapid Response Team to quickly get assistance from a specially trained team of health care professionals.

Condition H

The Miriam Hospital recognizes that the patient and the patient’s family are vital members of the health care team, and we encourage your participation. Whether you are a patient or a family member of a patient, we value your thoughts and questions. Talk to your primary care nurse and the medical team if you have questions or concerns. If you feel that a concern has not been adequately addressed, consider activating Condition H. Condition H is a phone call patients and family members can make to request immediate evaluation of a patient by The Miriam’s Rapid Response Team.

When to Call Condition H

You should call Condition H when:

  • A noticeable change occurs in the patient’s condition and the health care team is not recognizing the change. You may notice subtle changes that aren’t apparent to the patient’s health care team.
  • You believe there is confusion among the health care team about the patient’s plan of care.
How to Call Condition H

To call Condition H:

  • Dial 3-5111 from any hospital telephone.
  • Identify the call as Condition Help.
  • Provide the patient’s name, location and the reason for your call.

The operator will activate Condition H, and a multidisciplinary rapid response team will come to the patient’s room, assess the patient and provide appropriate treatment. Through Condition H, The Miriam empowers patients and family members to play an active role in the care provided to hospitalized patients.

Fall Prevention and Walking

Keep Active in the Hospital

Keeping active while in hospital can ensure that you:

  • Have less risk of falling.
  • Maintain muscle strength.
  • Maintain bone strength.
  • Maintain balance.
  • Maintain appetite.
  • Prevent skin breakdown.
  • Prevent constipation.
  • Shorten time required in hospital.
  • Reduce risk of infections.

We have developed some simple, lower leg exercises that may help prevent falls. You can do them in bed or in a chair. Turn your TV to channel 17 on the hour, and exercise along with us.

You are less likely to be able to return to your own home at discharge if you stay in bed while you’re in the hospital. You may lose as much as 3 percent of your muscle mass every day that you stay in bed. Blood pressure drops about a half hour after meals and may increase risk for falls. Sitting on the edge of your bed or chair and rising slowly can reduce the chance of falling. It may take two weeks to regain strength you lose from just one day of bedrest, so make sure to keep walking. Walk as often as you can tolerate while in the hospital, with the assistance of staff. Make sure to get out of bed during all meal times.

What You Will Need

To ensure that you are less likely to fall when returning home make sure you have:

Footwear: tied shoes with non-skid soles.
Eyeglasses: available and within easy reach.
Hearing aids: in place during daytime hours, with functional batteries.
Assistive devices: bring your cane, walker or brace from home, or we can provide one.

Walking helps reduce many health problems and helps reduce the risk of falls. Here are some other tips you can use during your hospital stay:

  • Ask for assistance going to and from the bathroom. Even if you would not normally need help, we are here to help you.
  • If you have problems or concerns with incontinence, talk to your nurse. We may be able to help you with this.
  • Be aware of objects in your walking path.
  • Wear solid, well-fitting shoes at all times both in the hospital and at home.
  • Get up slowly from chairs, beds, and the toilet.
  • Mobility alarms may be used as a gentle reminder to call for assistance.

We will perform hourly rounds to provide assistance with toileting and repositioning so that you do not get up alone. If you need help between times, please call for help. You may need an assistive device in the hospital for your balance even if you do not normally use one. Family involvement is important to us. We invite you to take an active role in your loved one’s care. This may involve asking family and friends to stay with you during your hospital visit. Please let us know how we can work with you and your family to keep you active during your hospital visit.

Pain Control

What Is the Best Way to Talk about Pain?

Your caregivers will explain the different ways we assess pain. Together, we will find the approach that works best for you. This will make it easier to talk about your pain. We want you to tell us where you feel pain, what it feels like, what makes it worse and what makes it better.

Tell us about any pain that you have had for a long time and any new pain. It is important to let us know about pain you’ve had in the past, including allergies and medication side effects. Patients who cannot verbally report pain will not be left without pain control. We use our knowledge about pain to guide our decisions about pain control. We also may speak with family and friends who know the patient well. We know that many people are concerned about taking pain medications. Many patients and families worry about possible side effects and potential dangers of pain medication.

Please discuss any concerns with us.

We always try to do everything we can to help you control your pain so you can participate in your recovery and get back to your normal activities.

We want you to be as comfortable as possible, but we can’t measure pain the way we measure heart rate and temperature. Pain is a personal experience. Only you can explain your pain to us. We will ask about your pain often so that we can monitor it closely. Once you have received medication to control your pain, we will ask you to rate your pain to see if the medication is helping you. It may not be easy to talk about your pain for personal reasons, but we want you to trust us.

How Will My Pain Be Treated?

As you begin to recover, we will get you moving out of the bed, to the chair or walking. It is important to have a balance of activity and rest so that you may heal. We will discuss the best plan of care for you. Pain medication can be a pill or liquid you swallow, an injection, or patch on your skin. Sometimes we need to try a different amount of medication, a different drug, or a different way to give the medication. Some medications are given on a schedule; others are given as needed. We want to keep your pain under control. It is best to let us know before it becomes severe. We will partner with you to monitor and treat any side effects of the pain medication. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, constipation, itching, dizziness and feelings of drowsiness.

Pain may also be controlled without medication with certain proven methods. They include:

  • Changing position (activity).
  • Warm and cold therapy.
  • Relaxation techniques: meditation or prayer may help relieve anxiety and tension. Eye shades and ear plugs are available.
  • Distraction: relaxation television programming to improve the patient experience.
  • Positive thinking: individuals who stay positive and hopeful often feel less pain or are less bothered by the pain they feel.

While there are different ways to treat pain for different age groups, uncontrolled pain is not acceptable at any age. You have a right to pain relief. We will work with you, discussing what to expect and your plan of care. We try to prevent and relieve your pain so that you are as comfortable as possible. You may receive a satisfaction survey after discharge. Please let us know how well your pain was controlled.

Learn more about The Miriam Hospital