Monongahela Valley Hospital wants to ensure that your hospital stay is a safe experience; therefore, we believe that you should become an active, informed partner in your health care.

Download the Speak Up Brochure (pdf) | Download A Personal Health Record (pdf)

You can do this by asking questions and following your treatment plan.

Improving patient safety is a continuous process of learning and communication of information among you, your physician and the hospital staff.

Together we can succeed in improving patient safety, which will benefit us all.

Be Involved in Your Health Care

What does your involvement in patient safety mean to you and your family?

For instance:
  • It means we need you to provide detailed information about your condition.
  • It means that you should clearly understand your diagnosis and treatment plan and know what to expect.
  • It means keeping us informed of any changes in your condition, good or bad, such as an allergic reaction to a drug.
  • It means we want you to speak up when you have a question about any aspect of your care.

We want you to become a partner in the development of a safe care plan. Your active involvement will help us consistently do the right thing, at the right time, for the right person – you.

Let us know how you feel. As a well information patient, you help us to provide a safe Monongahela Valley Hospital.

About Patient Safety

Medical errors are one of the nation's leading causes of death and injury. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine estimates that as many as 44,200 to 98,000 people die each year as the result of medical errors. Medical errors happen when something that was planned as part of medical care doesn't work out, or when the wrong plan was used in the first place.

Medical errors can occur anywhere in the hospital. They can happen during even the most routine procedures such as when a hospital patient is not to have a tray and is given a regular meal. Most errors result from a breakdown in today's complex system. But errors may occur when doctors and their patients have problems communicating.

The single most important way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team. That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. The tips below have been compiled from a variety of sources, including the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and Sentara Health Systems.

Don't be afraid to ask questions if you have doubts or concerns:

Speak up! This will allow your health care providers an opportunity to better assist you. We want you to understand your treatment plan and why it was chosen for you.

Involve your loved ones:
Keep your loved ones informed about your care plan. Better yet, ask a family member to assist you in understanding and carrying out your care plan.

Make sure you and your caregivers are clear about what medications you take:
Be sure to tell your caregivers what medications you are taking, including non-prescription medications, vitamins and herbal remedies. When you receive a prescription, make sure it is the right medication and the right dose. An easy-to-use medication record sheet is at the end of this document to help you with keeping track of some of your medical records. Just fill it in. Be sure to keep your list up to date.


Make sure that all of your doctors know about everything you are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
At least once a year, bring all of your medicines and supplements with you to your doctor. "Brown bagging" your medicines can help you and your doctor talk about them and find out if there are any problems. It can also help your doctor keep your records up to date, which can help you get better quality care.

Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
This can help you avoid getting a medicine that can harm you.

When your doctor writes you a prescription, ask that the purpose for the medication be included and make sure you can read it.
If you can't read your doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist may not be able to either.

Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand – both when your medicines are prescribed and when you receive them.
What is the medicine for? How am I supposed to take it, and for how long? What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur? Is this safe to take with other medicines or supplements I am taking? What food, drink or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine? What are the brand and generic names of the medications? When is the best time to take it? What should I do if I miss a dose? Does this replace anything else I was taking? Where and how do I store it?

When you pick up your medicine from the Pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?

A study by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences found that 88 percent of medicine errors involved the wrong drug or the wrong dose.

If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels, ask.

Medicine labels can be hard to understand. For example, ask if "four doses daily" means taking a dose every 6 hours around the clock or just during regular waking hours.

Ask your pharmacist for the best device to measure your liquid medicine. Also, ask questions if you're not sure how to use it.
Research shows that many people do not understand the right way to measure liquid medicines. For example, many use household teaspoons, which often do not hold a true teaspoon of liquid. Special devices, like marked syringes, help people to measure the right dose. Being told how to use the devices helps even more.

Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause.

If you know what might happen, you will be better prepared if it does happen or if something unexpected happens instead. That way, you can report the problem right away and get help before it gets worse. A study found that written information about medicines given to patients by their doctor, pharmacist or other health care professionals can help patients recognize potential side effects.

Hospital Stays

Take your medicines and the list of your medications with you when you go to the hospital.
Your doctors and nurses will need to know what you're taking, then send your medicines home with your family. While you're in the hospital, any medications you need will be provided by the hospital.

Thoroughly read all medical forms and make sure you understand them before you sign anything.

If you don't understand, ask you doctor or nurse to explain them.

If your doctor prescribes medications for you to take while in the hospital, tell your doctor you want to know the names of each medication and reasons you are taking them. Before you take any medicine in the hospital, look at it. If it doesn't look like what you usually take, ask why. It might be a generic drug, or it might be the wrong drug.

Ask the same questions you would ask if you were in the Pharmacy.

Do not let anyone give you medications without checking your hospital I.D. bracelet every time (your name and date of birth).

This helps prevent you from getting someone else's medications.

Before any test or procedure, ask if it will require any dyes or medicines.

Remind your nurse and doctor if you have any allergies.

If you are in a hospital, consider asking all health care workers who have direct contact with you if they have washed their hands.
Handwashing is an important way to prevent the spread of infections in hospitals. Yet, it is not done regularly or thoroughly enough. A recent study found that when patients checked whether health care workers washed their hands, the workers washed their hands more often and used more soap.

When you are being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor or nurse to explain the treatment plan you will use at home.
This includes learning about your medicines and finding out when you can get back to your regular activities. Research shows that at discharge time, doctors think their patients understand more than they really do about what they should or should not do when they return home. When you're ready to go home, have the doctor or nurse write the purpose for the medication on the prescription. Many drug names look alike when written poorly; knowing the purpose helps you and the pharmacist double-check the prescription.


If you are having surgery, make sure that you and the health care professionals treating you all agree and are clear on exactly what will be done.
Performing surgery at the wrong site (for example, operating on the left knee instead of the right) is rare. But even once is too often. The good news is that wrong-site surgery is 100 percent preventable. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons urges its members to sign their initials directly on the site to be operated on before the surgery. Expect your physician or physician assistant to initial the part of your body that will be the surgical site.

Other Steps You Can Take

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care.
  • Make sure that someone, such as your personal doctor, is in charge of your care. This is especially important if you have many health problems or are in a hospital.
  • Make sure that all health professionals involved in your care have important health information about you. Write down your medical history including any medical conditions you have, illnesses, immunizations, allergies, hospitalizations, all medications and herbal/dietary supplements you are taking, and any reactions or sensitivities you've experienced. Request a Personal Health Record (pdf) from one of our health care providers or download one from our site. That way you'll have a list of current medications in case of emergency.
  • Do not assume that everyone knows everything they need to - share information.
  • Ask a family member or friend to be there with you and to be your advocate (someone who can help get things done and speak up for you if you can't). Even if you think you don't need help now, you might need it later.
  • Know that "more" is not always better.
  • It is a good idea to find out why a test or treatment is needed and how it can help you. You could be better off without it.
  • If you have a test, don't assume that no news is good news. Ask about the results.
  • Learn about your condition and treatments by asking your health care professionals and by using other reliable sources.
  • If you have questions about this information or want more information on safety, contact your physician, pharmacist, hospital or health plan.
  • Additional information is also available on the internet from the Agency for Health care Research and Quality, and the Institute of Safe Medication Practices,

Patient Safety For Older Adults

Older adults have special patient safety concerns. For example, for people over the age of 65, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths. In addition, more than 11 million elderly in the United States fall each year - one in three senior citizens. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says about 40 percent of all nursing home admissions are due to falls.

Preventing Falls For Older Adults

Here are some ideas on how to prevent falls for older adults:
  • Discard slippery throw rugs or place nonskid material on the back.
  • Keep electric cords, telephone cords, newspapers, and other clutter out of walkways.
  • In the bathroom, install grab bars or handrails in the bathtub and by the toilet, and use a non-skid shower mat.
  • Make sure the home is well-lit.
  • Put a strip of brightly colored tape on the top and bottom step of stairways.
  • Arrange items in cabinets to make them easier to reach.

Other Tips For Older Adults

  • Set aside time to empty out cabinets of old medications and check that medications are up to date.
  • If you have avoided going for health care because of fear of the unknown, make an appointment before your health becomes an emergency.
  • Bring a friend or family member to the doctor to help ask questions, and help you listen.
  • Learn about your own health issues - become an informed consumer.
  • Don't forget to check out all of our patient safety tips and request a File of Life Card from one of our health care providers or download one from this site. That way you'll have a list of current medications in case of emergency.

Advance Directives

Monongahela Valley Hospital offers information on writing an Advanced Directive and definitions of common words used.

For more information on writing an Advanced Directive, call our Patient Representative at 724-258-1076.

For information on the U.S. Living Will Registry, please visit:

Monongahela Valley Hospital provides community service presentations to religious, spiritual, or civic groups interested in learning more about Advance Directives and end-of-life decisions. If you have any questions, please contact Monongahela Valley Hospital.

Contact Us

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  • More information about Monongahela Valley Hospital Patient Safety
  • Have a question, comment or suggestion
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please use the Contact Us.