Frequently Asked Questions

Notes from Karen

I wrote Safe & Sound in the Hospital to be “short & sweet” so it would be handy for you to use.  As much as I wanted to share all the ‘why’s” behind all the checklists, it would be too overwhelming to read through more text, especially when you’re in a hospital, trying to focus on your loved on as much as possible.  

So, here is the background info for some terms and checklists, which you may find interesting and helpful.

Just leave a comment if there’s anything else you’d like me to cover.  It’s easy to update this page — I really appreciate all feedback from Safe & Sound users!


What’s a Hospitalist?


The Safe & Sound chart on Page 4 shows the titles for people you’ll meet on your loved ones’ medical team. One  you’ll see is Hospitalist. This is a doctor on staff at many hospitals who generally oversees care in place of patients’ main doctors.

Some people are disappointed – even upset – to learn that their primary doctor isn’t involved in their hospital care. As soon as your loved one leaves the hospital, however, care reverts back to the primary doctor.


Why NOT schedule surgery according to what’s most convenient for me and my family?


There’s lots of data to back up the fact that hospitals have safer times than others for having surgery. By scheduling on the safest days, in the safest weeks and months, you can help assure that senior staff is performing the surgery and will be on hand if there are any complications afterward.

Obviously, if emergency surgery is necessary, you have to do what you have to do! But if there is any leeway whatsoever, consider safe days first!


What’s a“time out”?


A surgical time-out is when doctors and nurses on the surgical team pause before surgery to review the details of their patient’s case.

Just as importantly, make sure they introduce themselves to each other. Studies have shown that surgical teams who take the time to learn the others’ names communicate better during the operation.

And we all know that good communication is key to successful teamwork!


Why should we ask about the surgeon’s checklist?


Multiple studies have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that when surgeons and their teams use a surgical checklist, surgery outcomes are significantly better.


Why does Safe & Sound in the Hospital make such a big point of alarm monitors?


There is something called “alarm fatigue”, which causes nurses to tune out background noise when focused on a task at hand. You’ve probably experienced this yourself — in order to concentrate, sometimes the brain shuts out background noise.

So that means you need to actively make yourself hyper aware of alarms that may ring on your loved one’s monitors – and then get help when they do! (If you hear alarms ring for other patients and no one responds, get a nurse for them too!)


Safe & Sound in the Hospital lists specific questions to ask every day — aren’t they a little “pushy?”


First and foremost, getting answers to these safe & sound questions will give your loved one and you peace of mind!  Nurses and doctors work from a Care Plan that’s seldom shared with the patient or family. You can get to the heart of the Care Plan  – and take some of the mystery (and possibly some anxiety) out of hospital care when you have the answers to  these questions!


Why do I need to keep track of tests and medications? Isn’t that the hospital’s job?


 Your good notes are valuable to help fill all of these common cracks in care:

    •  It’s estimated that every patient has at least one medication error per day
    • It’s not uncommon for different doctors to order the same test, or for orders to become misplaced.
    • Sometimes the hospital medical record isn’t correct or up-to-date
    • Often, the hospital records don’t get to your loved one’s doctor in time for the first follow-up appointment after discharge.