A recent survey of Medicare data completed by Consumer Reports rated hospitals nation-wide (PDF) on their ability to keep surgical patients safe. The results were surprising to some, showing many smaller, independent hospitals like FMH out-performing larger medical centers like Johns Hopkins and Shady Grove Adventist.
Here at FMH we’re always focused on patient safety. In the past year we’ve taken that focus a step further with our surgical patients by implementing a Safe Surgery Initiative. Patients who are scheduled for surgery at FMH receive a guide full of information about how to prepare and what to expect before, during and after surgery. The guide also includes these “must-knows”:
- Control your blood sugar (if you have diabetes)
We want patients’ blood sugar ranges between 140 and 180 mg/dL before meals and less than 200 mg/dL two hours after starting a meal. Having well-controlled blood sugar in the days and weeks before and after surgery translates into faster healing times and reduced likelihood of complications.
- Quit smoking
The longer patients can remain smoke-free before surgery, the better they will heal. Smoking increases patients’ chances for complications like infections, pneumonia and heart attacks, both during and after surgery. Most doctors recommend quitting smoking as soon as you decide to have surgery. This includes electronic cigarettes. The FMH Smoking Cessation program is available for anyone who wants help to quit smoking, whether surgery is a motivator or not. Call 240-566-3622 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
- Know your medications
Whether you’re preparing for a surgical procedure or not, you should know the names, doses and how often you take each of your medications. Some medications like blood thinners, aspirin and anti-inflammatories should be taken the day of surgery even if patients are instructed not to eat or drink.
- Keep warm
Patients’ body temperatures can drop during surgery, slowing blood flow and impairing immune function. Surgical patients are advised to stay warm on their way to the hospital and we provide heated blankets to keep them warm in the operating room.
- Avoid infections
All patients are reminded to “say no to razors” because any accidental nicks provide an opportunity for infection. If hair needs to be removed from the surgical site, we can take care of that with electric clippers.
- Scrub with the strong stuff
As part of our Safe Surgery Initiative, we’ve started giving our surgical patients free Chlorhexidine (CHG) along with instructions on how to use it effectively as they shower or bathe before their procedures. The antiseptic solution cleans away harmful bacteria to prevent infections. Because about 30% of people carry bacteria in their noses, we provide patients with an iodine nasal antiseptic about one hour before surgery to reduce bacteria in the nose and the risk of post-surgical infection.
We also encourage our patients, surgical and otherwise, to be active participants in their health care. We want to hear our patients’ concerns about medications, IV fluids, any pain — even a reminder to wash our hands. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up to any member of your health care team!
If you’re scheduled for surgery (or just curious about the process) we have a series of videos that walk you through the process here at FMH. Here’s the most popular segment, “Pre-Op and the Operating Room”. The rest of the videos can be found on our YouTube channel.