Quality and patient safety
Providing our patients with the highest-quality care is a point of pride for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Every day, we strive to offer health care and treatment that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable. Our commitment to quality and safety has earned us The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval, an accreditation that serves as the gold standard of health care in the U.S. and the global community. On this page, you can learn more about how we create a culture of quality and safety across all of Fred Hutch’s points of care.
We welcome your voice
We believe it’s important to continuously monitor our performance and pursue opportunities for improvement. If you have a concern, suggestion or compliment about the safety and quality of Fred Hutch’s services, please contact us:
We know that the best clinical outcomes can only be achieved in the safest possible environment, when health care providers, patients and their families work as partners. Our patient safety priorities and programs reflect The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals —standards for preventing harm and ensuring best practices in health care settings.
Falls are common among people of all ages with cancer, and they can lead to serious injury. Fatigue, vision impairment, numbness in the feet, low blood counts and dizziness are all common side effects of cancer and cancer treatment that can increase the risk of falling.
Fred Hutch’s fall prevention program includes:
- Regular patient screening and assessment
- Interventions to prevent falls for patients at risk
- A review process to investigate falls and make improvements to reduce the risk of future falls
- Staff training
Working in collaboration with our patients and caregivers is a vital part of preventing medication errors and adverse drug reactions. Please bring an up-to-date list of all medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, herbs and supplements you are taking to your medical appointments. Your care team will:
- Document this information and share it with the rest of your care team
- Compare this list with any newly prescribed medications
- Identify and discuss any potential problems, such as medications that may interact negatively with one another
- Provide information about new medications
What you can do
We encourage you to take the following steps to help prevent medication errors:
Read the label on your prescription medicine. Make sure the label has your name on it, the correct medicine name and the expected dose. Pay attention to any special instructions on the label, such as instructions to contact your care team for approval before starting oral chemotherapy. Some medicines have similar names that can be confused. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think you are about to receive the wrong medicine.
Read the label of intravenous (IV) or subcutaneous (SQ) medications. If you receive IV or SQ therapy — medications that are delivered directly into a vein or tissue — read the label on the medication or ask a friend or family member to do it for you.
Ask questions about your new medicine. Your pharmacist, nurse or physician should share information with you about any new medicine, including its brand and generic names. Ask how a new medicine will help, what the possible side effects are and when and how to report issues.
Ask for help. If you’re not feeling well enough to ask questions about your medicines, a family member or friend can serve as your advocate, ensuring you receive the right medicines and take them correctly.
Tell your nurse or physician if you don’t feel well after taking a medication. If you think you are having a reaction or experiencing side effects, contact your care team immediately.
Know how and when to take your medications. Before you leave the clinic or hospital, make sure that you understand all of the instructions for your medications.
Know who to contact, and how to reach them, if you have follow-up questions. Before you leave the clinic or hospital, make sure you know how to get in touch with your care team in case you have questions later or need clarification.
At Fred Hutch, we strive to anticipate and prevent safety events — errors or incidents that may cause patients harm. However, despite our best efforts, these events can occur. If they do, we acknowledge them and learn from them. When a safety event happens, we take the following steps:
Inform you and your family. Our highest priority is to respond quickly and effectively by explaining what happened and making sure you have the resources and support you need.
Learn from the event to keep it from happening again. We conduct a thorough review of our systems, processes and procedures to identify what led to the safety event and make changes to prevent it from happening in the future.
What you can do
Being an active member of your care team is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent errors. This means being familiar with your rights and responsibilities as a patient, asking questions; sharing information; learning about your condition, medicines and treatment; and participating in decisions about your care. The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality recommends the following tips to prevent errors:
Speak up if you have questions or concerns. Don’t hesitate to question anyone who is involved in your care. Learn more
Ask a family member or friend to come with you to medical appointments. A companion can speak up for you if you can’t. They can take notes, help remember important details and act as your advocate.
Follow up on test results. After a test or scan, ask your provider how and when you will receive the results.
Ask about hand hygiene. Clean hands are key to preventing the spread of infection. Ask all health care workers who have direct contact with you whether they have washed their hands.
The Fred Hutch Infection Prevention Program aims to minimize the risk of infection for our patients and staff, providing a safe environment for all. Our evidence-based prevention activities include:
- Real-time infection monitoring and surveillance
- Disease outbreak investigation
- Staff and patient education
- Close collaboration with local public health departments to prevent emerging infectious disease threats
Patient safety resources
Your safety is our highest priority and part of our ongoing commitment to provide patient-centered care. The following organizations provide general information about patient safety.
This federal agency works to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.
This organization serves as the nation’s predominant standard-setting and accrediting body in health care.
The goal of this nonprofit organization is to advance the quality and value of health care throughout the world.
A nonprofit alliance of 31 of the world's leading cancer centers, the NCCN is dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness, efficiency and accessibility of cancer care. Learn more about Just Bag It!, the NCCN campaign for the safe handling of vincristine, a chemotherapy drug.
This department works with federal, state and local partners to help people in Washington stay healthier and safer.
Quality of care measures
Fred Hutch strives to continually improve the quality of the services we provide throughout all sites of care. We track and analyze our performance across a variety of measures, from infection rates to the timeliness and effectiveness of care. We collaborate often with fellow members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers to develop effective quality measures, to benchmark performance and to do quality improvement initiatives.
Access our publicly reported quality measures.
Review The Joint Commission’s Quality Report about Fred Hutch.
Accreditations and licenses
Fred Hutch is a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center that is accredited by The Joint Commission, the Commission on Cancer and several other agencies. We are also a Center of Excellence for Bone Marrow Transplant and Peripheral Stem Cell Infusions.