Patient Safety Tips

Patient safety tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Washing Your Hands

Washing your hands is very important. It can help infection from spreading:

  • At home
  • At work
  • At school
  • In public

Wash your hands before:

  • Cleaning your wound and putting on your clean dressing
  • Making food
  • Eating

Wash your hands after:

  • Using the toilet
  • Touching dirty wound dressings and pets
  • Taking off your old dressing
  • Putting on your clean wound dressing
  • Taking off soiled clothing and shoes
  • Any time you can see dirt on your hands

How to wash your hands:

  • Take off your jewelry before washing hands
  • Check the water temperature
  • Lather your hands with soap
  • Rub your hands together
  • Clean the front and back of each hand up to your wrist for 20 seconds (Sing the Happy Birthday song 2 times)
  • Rinse well
  • If you are able, turn the faucets off with a paper towel or towel.

Use hand sanitizer if water and soap are not available. Make sure the hand sanitizer or gel is alcohol-based. Apply the sanitizer in the palm of one hand then rub your hands together. Be sure to rub the gel all over your hands and fingers until they are completely dry.


Bathing too frequently can dry skin. A short lukewarm shower, bath, or sponge bath once a day for 5 to 10 minutes can hydrate and clean skin.

When bathing:

  • Always check the water temperature before you get into the shower or bathtub
  • Set your water thermostat to no higher than 120 degrees
  • Use a tub seat or bench in the bathtub or shower
  • Check your skin for red, open, cracked or dry areas. Report them to your healthcare provider
  • Use shower mats that do not slip
  • Use mild cleansers that do not dry your skin
  • Apply moisturizer while your skin is damp
  • Do not use moisturizers that contain alcohol or lanolin unless ordered by your health care provider
  • Some wound dressings and compression wraps may not be able to get wet. Your wound care team will let you know how to bathe when using wound dressings

Preventing Falls

  • Many older adults fall each year
  • Serious falls could lead to death
  • Falls can cause very bad injuries. These falls need to be treated in the hospital
  • The elderly and ill are at a higher risk for injury or accidental death in their homes because of:
    • problems with vision
    • problems with hearing
    • problems walking
    • problems changing positions
    • problems with medications or
    • a home that has not been adapted to their special needs

Fall Prevention Methods

  • Your family can help you check your home for dangers that might make you trip or fall.
  • Use bright light bulbs and nightlights in walkways and within easy reach of a room’s entrance
  • Keep a light and phone within easy reach of your bed
  • Keep emergency phone numbers listed by your phone
  • Keep walkways free from objects, clutter, and cords
  • Install handrails on both sides of all stairs inside and outside
  • Install grab bars in toilet, tub, and shower
  • Keep commonly used items within easy reach, i.e. food, clothes, dishes
  • Sit in a chair that you can easily get in and out of
  • If you have trouble bending and reaching, see an occupational therapist for instruction in using grabbers and reachers
  • Wear shoes that fit properly and have nonskid soles
  • Remove all area rugs or secure their edges with double sided tape
  • Use an elevated toilet seat
  • Use nonskid floor wax

Fire Prevention

  • Install smoke detectors on each floor and in each bedroom
  • Test smoke detectors each month
  • Plan and practice an escape route
  • Install a fire escape or portable ladder in second floor rooms
  • Do not cook while wearing clothing with loose long sleeves
  • Do not store flammable items near your stove
  • Move electrical cords away from sinks
  • Avoid use of space heaters
  • Consider a patient safety alert system that can be worn around your neck

AgingHomeHealthCare retrieved 8/2012
CDC (2012) Hand Washing Guidelines Retrieved 8/25/2012 at:
(Preventing Falls at Home: Area Agency on Aging – http://www.n4aorg/answers-on-aging/ retrieved 8/21/2012)
American Academy of Dermatology retrieved 8/2012 at: