Treatments and tests

During your hospital stay

During your stay, you will be cared for by different healthcare staff at different times, who will keep each other up-to-date about your care and treatment.

You and your carer or family members should be involved in this process so you’ll know what is going on with your care and treatment.

If at any time you don’t understand what is being said to you, ask the staff caring for you to repeat or explain the information in another way.

During your stay in hospital, you will be asked your name, date of birth and if you have any allergies. You will be asked these same questions a few times as the healthcare team needs to be sure they have everything correct, and that you know what is happening to you along the way.

Preventing yourself from falling

Falls can happen easily when you are unwell, taking new medicines, and in unfamiliar places.

Healthcare staff will discuss your risk of falling and put actions in place to reduce your risk, such as:

  • Wear suitable clothing, non-slip footwear with good support
  • et up slowly after sitting or lying down
  • Be aware that you may need more assistance than usual to move around
  • Call staff for help if you need help moving, if you are feeling unwell, dizzy, or there are hazards in your way
  • Have the call bell within reach and use it to call for help
  • Get to know your hospital room, furniture, and bathroom location
  • Use your glasses, walking and hearing aids and keep them within easy reach
  • be extra careful in wet areas.

Families and carers can help by:

  • letting nursing staff know when they have finished their visit
  • helping keep the hospital room/bed area free of clutter
  • removing belongings that are no longer required.
Reducing your risk of developing pressure sores (injuries)
    Pressure points on the human body when lying down

Pressure injuries can be a nasty complication and can develop quickly if any part of the body experiences constant and unrelieved pressure.

You can minimise your risk of developing pressure injuries by:

  • changing body position frequently when lying in bed
  • drinking plenty of water
  • maintaining good posture when sitting
  • checking your skin for signs of redness or blistering
  • using only mild soap when bathing
  • moisturising your skin well.

Advise nursing staff immediately if you notice signs of a pressure injury (such as redness that does not go away, broken or blistered skin, localised pain, tingling or numbness).

Preventing infection

When you are unwell or recovering from surgery, the last thing you want is to get an infection which could delay your recovery and make you feel worse.

Bacteria or germs that cause infections are most commonly spread through hand contact. Practising good hand hygiene is one way to avoid infection.

This means:

  • wash your hands before eating or touching food, and after going to the toilet
  • use running water and soap or an alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands
  • ask your visitors to clean their hands before visiting your room.

Remember – you can remind healthcare staff to clean their hands before they examine you.

Other ways to prevent infection include:

  • avoid close contact with people who may have a spreadable illness, and ask people not to visit if they are sick
  • always cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and wash your hands straight after
  • follow instructions on how to treat and care for any medical devices, or surgical/open wounds.
Managing your medications in hospital
lady reading scripts

It’s important to know what medicines you take, and why you take them, as mistakes can occur when medicines are prescribed, taken or used incorrectly.

It’s really important that you keep track of all your medications. Medicines are usually prescribed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist. Complementary or 'over-the-counter' therapies like vitamins, nutritional supplements, and natural or herbal remedies are also considered medicines.

Medicines may be:

  • tablets, capsules or liquids, patches, creams and ointments
  • drops and sprays for eyes, nose, ears and mouth
  • inhalers and puffers
  • injections or implants
  • pessaries or suppositories.

Managing your medicines safely in hospital means:

  • letting staff know if you are allergic to any medications
  • speaking up about your medicines
  • asking questions if you are unsure about your medicines
  • finding out about what your medicines are for
  • discussing options with your doctor
  • making sure you understand how to take your medicines
  • ensuring all medications are explained to you before transfer or discharge.

Keep hospital staff informed about your medications

Bring all your current medicines with you to show your hospital doctor and pharmacist, and tell them about:

  • regular prescription medications – ask your community pharmacist for a list or visit NPS Medicinewise (external site) and use the smart phone app to manage your own medicine list
  • any recent changes to your medicines
  • any problems you’ve had with any medicines, including allergic reactions or difficulties swallowing medicines.

Understand what medicines you take and why

Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain why you are being given particular medications, their possible side effects and whether they can be taken safely with your other medications.

Tell staff straight away if you feel unwell after taking any medicine.

Getting the right medicines at the right time

Make sure hospital staff check your wrist band identification before they give you any medication to ensure the medicines are prescribed for you. If you think you should have received some medications, or the medications appear different, ask.

Read the label on your medicines before you take them home. If you don’t understand the instructions, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

To find information on medicines, you can also use the healthdirect medicines search (external site).

Video – Your medicines

Watch more of our videos at the WA Health YouTube channel (external site).

Read the video transcript – Your medicines.

Speaking up if you feel unwell

Nobody knows your health like you do. You are the best person to notice subtle changes in your health. Likewise, your family and loved ones who spend a lot of time with you may notice changes in how you look or act, before health professionals notice these changes. If you or your family notice changes in your health, it’s important to discuss these with the staff who are looking after you.

You could ask the nurse when they pop in to check on you, talk to the doctor when they come in to see you, or if you think it’s urgent, press the call bell. Your input is invaluable – feel free to discuss any concerns with the team caring for you.

Examples of things you might like to discuss include (but are not limited to):

  • changes in how fast you are breathing
  • noticing that you are more pale than usual
  • hands or feet unusually cold or warm
  • feeling unusually hot and clammy
  • acting or feeling out of character
  • having more pain than usual
  • feeling confused, anxious, distressed or angry
  • concerns that you have had different medications to usual
  • feeling dizzy, extra drowsy or sleepy
  • feeling like you are going to be sick.
Medical records and your privacy

Every time you visit a doctor or hospital, a paper and electronic record of your visit is created. These records can be accessed quickly in an emergency and by other doctors and hospitals where needed.

They are kept as a record of events during your stay and to help understand your needs and aid your recovery.

If you have a My Health Record (MHR), you may also have a copy of your discharge summary sent to your MHR when you are discharged. Please let your doctor know if you don’t want this to occur.

To learn more visit the My Health Record website (external site).

By law, your personal information must be kept confidential

Personal information is recorded about every person who attends a hospital in Western Australia. Various legal Acts and Regulations authorise the Department of Health to collect certain information about you.

This can include information about your birth, your giving birth or undergoing an assisted reproductive procedure.

It can also include a diagnosis of cancer or communicable disease or treatment for a mental illness.

This information is:

  • coded and sent to the Western Australian Department of Health
  • used only for research, planning or service improvement.

You cannot be identified from this information.

You have the right to view personal information about you that is held by the Department. To access your health record, you should apply in writing to the hospital or community health service that you have attended.

Learn more about accessing your WA Health records.

Video – Medical records and your privacy

Watch more of our videos at the WA Health YouTube channel (external site).

Read the video transcript – Medical records and your privacy.

More information

Download the Staying Safe in Hospital booklet.

Videos

During your hospital stay

Read the video transcript – During your hospital stay.

Staying Safe in Hospital

Read the video transcript – Staying safe in hospital.

Watch more of our videos at the WA Health YouTube channel (external site).


Acknowledgements

Patient Safety and Clinical Quality


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Need to access medical records? Find out how.