Continuing care

Patient safety

JHACO Gold SealGiving our patients care of the highest quality and safety is a point of pride for Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and is reflected in our high survival rates and receipt of the Joint Commission’s Golden Seal of Approval.

We know the best clinical outcomes can only be achieved in the safest possible environment, when health care providers, patients and their families work as partners.

We encourage you to report any concerns related to care, treatment, services, and patient safety at SCCA. Please tell your primary care team about your concerns.

Patient safety feedback

Please tell your primary care team if you have any concerns about patient safety.

Your safety is our number one priority.

SCCA is proactive in taking steps to reduce the possibility of errors occurring. It’s a team effort. We encourage you to ask questions and be actively involved in decisions about your health care. 

The following tips are from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality “20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors:”

  • Be an active member of your health care team—this is the single most important way you can help prevent errors.
  • Make sure that all of your doctors know about everything that you are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs. Carry a list.
  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns. Don’t hesitate to question anyone who is involved in your care.
  • Ask a family member or friend to be there with you to be your advocate—someone who can help get things done and speak up if you can’t.
  • If you have a test, ask about the results. Don’t assume that no news is good news.
  • Ask all health care workers who have direct contact with you whether or not they washed their hands.
  • Read how patients can help prevent health care errors by becoming active, involved, and  informed participants in their health care.

Patient safety resources

Patient safety focuses on avoiding, preventing and decreasing the impact of adverse outcomes or injuries stemming from medical errors. Nearly 50 percent of the Joint Commission standards are directly related to patient safety. As part of our ongoing commitment to you, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) has made patient safety our first priority.

The following resources provide additional general information on patient safety. If you are at SCCA, you can use the computers in the Patient & Family Resource Center on the first floor to access online information.

National Patient Safety Foundation
An independent non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the safety of patients.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
The lead Federal agency charged with improving the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare for all Americans. Read these publications from AHRQ:

The Joint Commission
An independent nonprofit organization, the nation’s predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in health care that focuses on improving the quality and safety of care provided by healthcare organizations. Read patient-safety information from the Joint Commission.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement
A nonprofit organization leading the improvement of health care throughout the world.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)

Just bag
A nonprofit alliance of 27 of the world's leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research and education. 

  • Just Bag It! - NCCN campaign for safe vincristine handling

Washington State Department of Health (DOH)
This department works with federal, state and local partners to help people in Washington stay healthier and safer.

Quality of care

SCCA strives to continually improve the quality and safety of the health care services our patients receive across all sites of care.

We are proud that SCCA has received the Joint Commission’s Golden Seal of Approval.

Joint Commission Quality Report on SCCA

By achieving accreditation, we make a commitment to follow Joint Commission standards and to provide the framework for safe, quality care. Nearly half of the Joint Commission standards directly relate to patient safety.

The Joint Commission provides hospital performance information for free through the Quality Check Web site. Read the SCCA quality report online. The quality report provides information about:

  • SCCA’s compliance with the Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals
  • SCCA’s performance on National Quality Improvement Goals
  • The Joint Commission accreditation decision and the effective dates of SCCA’s accreditation award
Core Values Anchoring SCCA Quality Goals
  • Making patient safety our first priority
  • Continuously striving to create an improved health care system for you that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable
  • Providing a safe environment for you and our staff
  • Working to anticipate and prevent errors
  • Recognizing that despite our best efforts, errors can occur, and embracing errors as learning opportunities
  • Responding quickly and effectively if an error occurs and working to prevent its reoccurrence
  • Informing you or your family of the results of treatment or procedures, including those results caused through error

Fall prevention

Falls are a common problem among people with cancer, regardless of age. Some of the reasons for the increased risk of falls are:

  • Certain medications
  • Bone involvement of the cancer
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood counts
  • Urinary or bowel changes
  • Numbness in the feet from chemotherapy

People with cancer who fall are often more at risk of serious injury or even death because of bone weakness or low platelets.

Outpatient fall-risk screening
  • We screen you for a risk for falls by asking you “Have you fallen in the last month?”
  • If the answer is yes, a registered nurse will conduct an in-depth assessment. This is done by reviewing your chart, looking at the medications you take and asking you a few questions related to falling, like “Do you have trouble with stumbling or tripping?” and “Do you have problems with dizziness?”  The assessment takes about two minutes. 
Fall prevention in the SCCA clinic
  • Environmental awareness: All the employees at SCCA have had training about fall prevention, with special attention to keeping the environment safe.
  • Patient education: All patients receive education about preventing falls in the clinic and the home. 
  • Fall-risk screening and assessment: All patients are screened regularly for fall risk.
  • Risk reduction: Nurses use strategies to reduce risks for falls with patients who are at risk for falling, such as identifying a need for a cane or walker, obtaining a physical-therapy consult and providing further information on decreasing risk for falls at home.
  • Communication: If a patient falls in the clinic, we alert the patient’s other care providers.
  • Post-fall management: We follow a plan for people who fall in the clinic to make sure that they are safe before they leave the clinic after a fall.
  • Fall quality-improvement plan: Each fall that happens at the clinic is investigated to learn from all falls and make changes to prevent future falls.
Partner with us to prevent falls at SCCA

We rely upon you and your caregivers partnering with us for maximum safety. 

Medication safety

As a patient or family member, you are a vital part of the healthcare team. You can ensure a safer experience by being involved in and informed about your treatment and medications. This requires continuous learning and constant communication between you and your caregivers. Your pharmacist is available to help provide information. Here are things that you can do to ensure safe medication use for yourself and your family.

Keep a medication list

You can help to prevent medication errors by providing a complete and up-to-date medication list to your healthcare providers.

Providing a current list allows your healthcare providers to compare any medications ordered for you to all of the medications that you have been taking. This is done to avoid medication errors such as omissions, duplications, dosing errors or drug interactions. Bring this to your first appointment.

Other steps you can take to prevent medication errors
  • Read the label on your prescription medicine. Make sure it has your name on it and the correct medicine name. Some medicines have similar names that can be confused.
  • Ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse how a new medicine will help. Ask for written information about it, including its brand and generic names. Ask about the possible side effects of your medicines.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you think you are about to get the wrong medicine.
  • Tell your nurse or doctor if you don’t feel well after receiving a medicine. If you think you are having a reaction or experiencing side effects, ask for help immediately.
  • If you’re not feeling well enough to ask questions about your medicines, ask a relative or friend to ask questions for you and to help make sure you get and take the right medicines.
  • If you receive intravenous (IV) fluids, read the contents of the bags of IV fluids. If you’re not well enough to do this, ask a relative or friend to do it.
  • Before you leave the hospital or clinic, make sure that you understand all of the instructions for the medicines you will need to keep taking, and ask any questions you may have about any of your medicines.

The tips above are from the Joint Commission Web site. You can find more information through the patient-safety resources page.