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    Patient Safety in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit)

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    Note: Please read this handout with your family or support person.

    Important Patient Safety Tips

    1. Participate in your medical care and all decisions about your baby's treatment. Write down questions for your doctor or nurse. Ask for written information about your baby's medical condition and treatment. Make sure you understand all the information you get.

    2. Read all medical forms carefully. Ask your baby's health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about the forms you are signing, such as consents for surgery. Get answers to your questions before you sign any forms.

    3. Make sure your health care provider checks your baby's identity (I.D.). Your baby's I.D. is the name and medical record number on your baby's I.D. band. Your health care provider should check your baby's I.D. band before giving any medicine, drawing blood or sending your baby for tests, treatments or procedures.

    4. I.D. bands on NICU babies. We do not place ID bands on our NICU babies until they are bigger and more stable. When they are, we rotate the band between the limbs. We use the movable Posey ID bands. The band number should match the number on your wrist band which you should keep on your wrist until your baby leaves the hospital. If one of these bands has to be removed, it is attached to your baby's bed. Your baby's nurse makes sure that another I.D. band with your baby's name and medical record number is on at all times or replaced as soon as possible.

    5. Before any surgery, test or procedure, review the correct procedure and operation site with the staff. The staff will ask you to confirm the surgery or procedure your baby is having before they begin.

    6. We are careful about who enters the NICU to visit your baby. Visitors are allowed to visit your baby only with your written permission. When your baby is admitted to the NICU, we ask you to complete a visitor list. Only persons on that list are allowed to visit your baby.

    7. Move around safely in the NICU and at your baby's bedside to prevent injury to yourself or your baby:

      • Wear slippers or shoes whenever you are in the NICU.

      • Make sure the side rails or incubator doors are always up or closed when you leave or turn away from your baby's bedside even for a moment.

      • If you feel weak or dizzy, please let a staff member know immediately and stay seated while someone arranges assistance for you.
    8. Learn about medication safety:

      • Bring a list of all of your baby's medicines to the hospital if your baby has already been home. Include vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter medicines you give to your baby. Keep a record of vaccines your baby has been given.

      • Understand your baby's medicines. Ask questions about the medicines prescribed for your baby in the NICU. Make sure you understand why the medicines are given.

      • Before you leave the hospital, you get a copy of your baby's Medication List from the nurse or doctor. This list should match the instructions your doctor has given you about the medicines your baby must take at home.
    9. Wash your hands before and after any contact with your baby. Upon entering the NICU for the first time in the day, please wash your hands thoroughly. See "Handwashing Guidelines for Families" posted near the sinks.

      • To keep you and your baby safe, health care providers clean their hands with soap and water, or alcohol-based waterless gel before and after caring for your baby.

      • If you notice any of our staff not cleaning their hands before touching your baby, please give them a friendly reminder. Handwashing is a very important step in keeping your baby safe from infections.
    10. Code Help: At CPMC, patient safety is our highest priority. Code Help is a way to provide our patients and families immediate access to help in an emergency when they feel they are not receiving adequate medical attention.
      • When to call: When a noticeable change occurs and if after speaking with the nurse or physician, you continue to have serious concerns on how care is being managed.
      • How to call: Dial O from any hospital phone and say, “I’m calling to activate Code Help.” Once activated, members of the Pediatric Rapid Response Team will arrive in your child’s room to assess the situation and address your concerns.
    11. Patient Concerns and Complaints: Anyone that has concerns, including but not limited to patient care and/or safety, may contact the Department Manager. You may also contact CPMC’s Patient Relations Dept. at (415) 600-2814. Someone will respond within 1 business day. You have a right to file a complaint without fear of retaliation.
      • You may also call our licensing agencies to report concerns. The Joint Commission Division of Accreditation Operations at (800) 994-6610 or at www.jointcommission.org/Opens new window and click on “Speak Up”.


    Note: This information is not meant to replace any information or personal medical advice which you get directly from your doctor(s). If you have any questions about this information, such as the risks or benefits of the treatment listed, please ask your doctor(s).

    Produced by the staff and physicians at California Pacific Medical Center in association with the Center for Patient and Community Education. Last update: 01/14.