Patient & Visitor Guide

Speak Up to Improve Your Care

Christiana Care places the utmost priority on the well-being of our patients, employees and all visitors to our campus.

You play an important role in helping to ensure that you receive the best care possible. We encourage you to ask your health care providers about the treatment you are receiving. We expect our staff to introduce themselves to you, and to explain what they will be doing and why with each visit.

Our safety-first guidelines also require the proper display of employee identification badges at all times.

Research shows that patients who take part in decisions about their health care are more likely to have better outcomes. We encourage you to ask questions about anything you think may affect your safety or well being during your stay.

Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you get an answer and still don’t understand, ask again.

  • Your health is too important to worry about being embarrassed if you don’t understand something that your doctor, nurse or other health care staff tells you. It’s your body, and you have a right to know.
  • Be the center of your health care team. Don’t be afraid to ask about safety.
  • If you’re having surgery, ask about marking the area that is to be operated upon to avoid any chance of confusion in the operating room.
  • For your safety, your health care staff will ask you to tell them what procedure or type of surgery you are having done.

Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Tell your nurse or doctor if something doesn’t seem right.

  • Expect health care staff to introduce themselves. Look for their identification badges, and check your own identification bracelet to make sure it correctly identifies you.
  • Notice whether your caregivers and visitors have washed their hands. Don’t be afraid to gently remind someone to do this. It is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections.
  • Know what time of day you normally receive a medication, and tell your nurse or doctor if it doesn’t happen.
  • Expect our health care staff to correctly identify you before giving you medications and treatments or taking you for a test. If they do not, please remind them.

Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.

  • Ask your doctor about the specialized training and experience that qualifies him or her to treat your illness.
  • Gather information about your condition from your doctor, your library, respected Web sites and support groups.
  • Write down important facts your doctor tells you, and ask for any written information you can keep.
  • Thoroughly read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the safe operation of any equipment that is being used in your care. If you will be using oxygen at home, do not smoke or allow anyone to smoke near you while oxygen is in use.
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend for their support.
  • There are probably some questions that you might not think of while you are under stress. A friend by your side can help remember answers to questions you have asked and speak up for you if you cannot.
  • Make sure this person understands your preferences for care and your wishes concerning resuscitation and life support. Review consents for treatment with your friend or family member before you sign them and make sure you both understand exactly what you are agreeing to.
  • Make sure your trusted friend or relative understands the type of care you will need when you get home and what actions should be taken if your condition worsens and who to call for help.

Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.

  • Keep a current list of all medicines, vitamins, herbs and supplements you are taking. Bring the list with you to any visit to the hospital or your doctor.
  • Print out this medication list to track all your medications.
  • Ask the purpose of any new medication, and ask for written information about it, including its brand and generic names, and possible side effects.
  • Ask about oral medications before swallowing, and read the contents of bags of intravenous (IV) fluids. If you’re not well enough to do this, ask your trusted friend or relative to do this. If you are given an IV, ask the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to “run out.” Tell the nurse if it doesn’t seem to be dripping properly (if it is too fast or too slow).
  • Whenever you are going to receive a new medication, tell your doctors and nurses about allergies you have, or negative reactions you have had to medications in the past.
  • If you are taking multiple medications, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take those medications together.
    Make sure you can read the handwriting on any prescriptions written by your doctor. If you can’t read it, the pharmacist may not be able to either.

Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has experience in treating your type of illness.

  • Ask how frequently they perform the procedure you need and what specialized care they provide in helping patients get well. Participate in decisions about your treatment.
  • You are the center of the health care team. You should agree with what will be done during each step of your care.
  • Ask what a new test or medication is likely to achieve.
  • Keep copies of your medical records from previous hospitalizations and share them with your health care team. This will give them a more complete picture of your health history.
  • Be prepared to discuss your wishes about organ donation and advance directives, which include Individual Instructions (formerly known as a Living Will) and Power of Attorney for Health Care, so that your treatment decisions will be made according to your preference if you are unable to speak for yourself. If you need assistance in developing an advance directive, ask a member of your healthcare team for support.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. If you are unsure about the nature of your illness and the best treatment, consult with additional specialists about the options available to you.
  • Plan your recovery by finding out about your condition, your new medicines and your follow-up care.
  • You will be given important directions about your follow-up care, including written instructions. If you follow these directions, you will have a greater chance of getting well faster.