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Patient Safety

At Hunterdon Medical Center, we consider health care a partnership – between physicians, nurses, staff … and you. That’s why we encourage you to take an active role in your care.

Patient safety sets Hunterdon Medical Center apart from other hospitals. All members of the medical staff, nursing staff, and all departments demonstrate a passion for safety by employing state-of-the-art practices including:

  • Strict adherence to the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist for every surgery to ensure attention to complete team communication and patient-specific detail.
  • Diligent observance of all practices listed in The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals, such as programs designed to improve communication between patients and health care providers. Click here for the complete set of goals.
  • Strong Safety Culture designed to keep patients safe with every person dedicated to the very best practices in patient safety.
  • Rapid Response Teams to intervene quickly stabilizing the patient’s condition to prevent a more serious outcome.


Surgical Safety Checklist:


Communication is Critical to your Safe Care

All Hunterdon Medical Center providers are encouraged to listen to their patients, speak in simple terms, and empower and develop an equal growing partnership. For patients, medical information is often difficult to understand. Patients who ask questions until they understand what they need to do can become partners with their doctor to manage their health. This understanding will build relationships and improve patient safety.

Here are some ways you can be an active partner in promoting patient safety:

  • Ask questions when you are unsure why a test or procedure is being done.
  • Ask for more information on your medical condition.
  • Ask your healthcare providers if they washed their hands.
  • Ask how you can help prevent falling while in the hospital.

SPEAK UP to prevent errors

To help prevent medical errors, Hunterdon Medical Center and the Joint Commission ask you to SPEAK UP.

Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you still don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.
Pay attention to the care you get. Always make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medicines from the right health care professionals. Don’t assume anything.
Educate yourself about your illness. Learn about the medical tests you receive and your treatment plan.
Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
Know what medicines you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.
Use a hospital that meets the rigorous health and safety standards of an accrediting organization, such as the Joint Commission.
Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

Report safety or quality concerns

We encourage you and your family to report any safety or quality concerns about your care to your nurse and nurse director.

Direct your concerns to:

Patient Advocate: 908-788-2580
Director of Patient Care Services: 908-788-6154
Patient Safety Officer: 908-788-6169
Vice President of Medical Affairs: 908-788-6155

Need a rapid response?

You should alert your nurse to significant changes in your (or your family member’s) medical condition. Tell your nurse, “My condition requires immediate attention” to trigger a rapid response.

Wear your hospital ID band

Your hospital ID band should be worn at all times. If the band falls off for any reason, please request a new one immediately. When you receive your ID band, check to see that all information is correct. ID band errors are a patient safety hazard. Staff members are required to check your ID band before any test or procedure. They may also ask you to verify your name or other information on the band.

Prevent germs from spreading

Health care providers must clean their hands before touching a patient. This helps to reduce the spread of germs. At Hunterdon Medical Center, there are two ways to wash your hands: using traditional soap and water, or washing with antibacterial foam (located in all patient rooms and most other areas of the hospital). Please kindly remind your doctor, nurse, laboratory personnel or others to clean their hands if you do not see them do so.

Tell Someone …

… if you have allergies to medicines, food or latex.
… if you take any over-the-counter or prescription drugs, or any type of vitamin or herbal supplement.
… if you don’t understand part of your upcoming test or procedure.
… if you need help or are in physical or emotional distress.
… if you have concerns of any kind.

If you don’t know … ask!

Understanding your treatment is key to ensuring the safety and success of your hospital visit. While you are here, you will often be asked to “teach back” what you have learned about tests, procedures, and medications. Hearing things in your words lets us know what we have explained clearly and what requires further discussion. We welcome questions about any and all aspects of your care. Remember: when it comes to your health, every question is important!

Leapfrog Hospital Survey

Hunterdon Healthcare has many excellent patient safety programs in place to ensure safe care for all patients. Just a few examples are: Measuring our safety culture annually which assures employees of Hunterdon Healthcare deliver care in a safe environment for patients, using a Surgical Safety Checklist, as recommended by the World Health Organization, to ensure “right patient, right side, right surgery” 100% of the time, following all the National Patient Safety Goals, preventing infections, team skills training to improve communication among caregivers, which includes briefings and debriefings before and after procedures and safe medication technology to prevent medication errors.

Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield Hospital Recognition Program

Hunterdon Medical Center has been commended by Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s Hospital Recognition Program for its outstanding efforts in improving patient safety, clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

State Hospital Performance Report

Each year, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services released its annual Hospital Performance Report.  The public report provides hospital-specific data from 2009 on a number of performance indicators such as a heart attack, pneumonia treatment, congestive heart failure, and surgical infection prevention.  This year’s report contains the first-time release of data on hospital-associated infections, specifically central line-associated bloodstream infections.  The report also contains patient safety indicators, which include information reported by an individual hospital. Hunterdon Medical Center was among the top 50% of New Jersey hospitals for effectively treating patients with a heart attack, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and surgical infection prevention.

Proficient surgical and operating room procedures can prevent many post-operative infections and post-operative complications. The most critical factors in the prevention of post-operative infections are the sound judgment and proper technique of the surgeon and surgical team as well as the general health and disease state of the patient. Hunterdon Medical Center had zero instances of patients with foreign bodies left in during a procedure, post-operative hip fractures, postoperative sepsis or infection, post-operative wound dehiscence (opening) and transfusion reactions.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI’s) are among the top causes of unnecessary illnesses and deaths in the United States. HAI’s are infections that patients get while staying in a hospital, these are infections that the patient did not have before being admitted.  Central line bloodstream infections occur when bacteria travel down a “central line”, or a catheter placed near the heart, and enter the blood.  Hunterdon Medical Center is part of the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Intensive Care Unit Collaborative to reduce central line infections.  Hunterdon Medical Center reported two HAI infections, which was similar to the national baseline.  For the prior two years, Hunterdon Medical Center had reported zero central line infections.  Hunterdon Medical Center had previously instituted “checklists” for the insertion of central lines, which have been shown to reduce such infections.

“Data reporting initiatives like this one are an important part of the process  – we use this information to identify potential trouble spots and design better processes to protect our patients.  It is part of our never-ending efforts to make our care safer and better.  As useful as this data is, no single report should be used to judge the overall quality of care in New Jersey or the performance of a single facility.  This report is just one piece of an array of available healthcare information,” stated Robert Coates, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Hunterdon Medical Center. Dr. Coates went on to say, “We encourage consumers to learn all they can about patient safety and quality healthcare.  Hospital websites, word of mouth from friends and neighbors, and the opinions of a trusted physician or nurse are also valuable resources.”

For more information on the Hospital Performance Report visit www.nj.gov/health/hpr

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