Safety at Swedish

Harassment and Inappropriate Behavior

Swedish Medical Center has "zero tolerance" for any actions that threaten its employees, patients, students or visitors. This includes verbal and physical harassment, verbal and physical threats, verbal confrontations, and any actions that cause other to feel unsafe in the workplace. Report any incident of workplace violence immediately, e.g. the staff member you are working with, charge nurse, clinical manager, or Academic Affiliations.

Safety Codes

All students, employees, volunteers, contract and temporary workers and employed physicians are expected to understand, report and assist in safety emergencies. Click on the link to view Safety Codes.


The highest incidents of injuries at Swedish are related to movement and handling of patients. When you need to move a patient:

  • Don't hurry
  • Assess the situation
  • Make a plan
  • Get help and/or use lifting devices. If you don't know how much help a patient requires to move ask a staff member for assistance. Patients are classified red/yellow/green to help quickly identify level of assistance required

Pre-Procedure Verification

  • A process to prevent surgical/procedural errors
  • Involves three elements:
    1. Pre-procedure verification, e.g. history and physical, consent
    2. Procedure site marking, i.e. proceduralist's initials
    3. Safety pause: The final assessment by stopping to ensure the correct patient, procedure, medication, site/side are identified. A designated team member will initiate the safety pause prior to the start of a procedure and all team members participate. If any discrepancies are found, the procedure is not started until a resolution is reached
  • When certain procedures require identification to be double checked by two caregivers each caregiver is at the bedside together, but they complete the check independently of each other

Oxygen Safety

  • Portable oxygen cylinders hold pressurized oxygen which can accelerate combustion
  • Cylinders must be secured at all times; in storage bins, or attached to emergency cart or wheelchair
  • Do not allow smoking near oxygen cylinder
  • Do not expose cylinders to excessive heat (e.g. direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time) or cold
  • Do not use flammable liquids, such as alcohol, to clean unit
    • Cylinder cover may be cleaned with a lint-free cloth and water
    • Cylinder handle should be wiped down between each patient use with Green top Sani-Wipe only
  • Do not lubricate connections
    • Cylinders should be kept free of oil, grease and any petroleum products such as Vaseline, or any other hydrocarbons
    • These combustibles can explode in the presence of high-pressure oxygen

Pharmaceutical Waste

Click on the link to read about Pharmaceutical Waste 

Emergency Power

  • Red-colored outlets and light switches indicate utilities that work under normal power, but will be the only ones working during generator power
  • Make sure critical equipment is always connected to red outlets

Medical Equipment and Electrical Safety

General Guidelines:

  • Never use a piece of equipment on which you have not been trained
  • Do not use a piece of equipment for any function other than its intended purpose
  • Never use a piece of equipment that has an expired inspection sticker. Annual inspections are completed by Clinical Engineering.

Electrical Safety Guidelines:

  • Keep electrical cords away from water and heat
  • Never use tacks or pins to attach cords to the floor, wall, or other objects
  • Examine all electrical cords regularly; replace any that are frayed or damaged
  • Do not use "octopus adapters" that allow multiple cords into one outlet
  • Do not use adapters that allow inserting a 3-prong plug into a 2-prong receptacle
  • Be certain that all plugs have the third (grounding) prong intact
  • Immediately report all shocks, even tingles, to your supervisor.

Medical Equipment

Do not operate any medical equipment that you are not trained to operate. The Clinical Engineering Department provides preventative maintenance for medical equipment. There is a preventative maintenance sticker identifying the next scheduled date of maintenance on each piece of medical equipment. Do not use equipment that has an expired sticker. If the date is, for example, 9/2016, the device is good through the last day of the month. If equipment has expired put a "do not use" note on the device, set it aside, and notify Clinical Engineering, and staff member you are working with. The stickers are color coded associated with the campus location of the equipment. The sticker color is the same as the color of the patient ID bands for that campus. If the equipment does not have the correct color coding for the campus you are on contact Clinical Engineering at 206-386-2698.

If medical equipment fails to operate properly:

  • Take the equipment out of service
  • Put a "do not use" note on the device
  • Save any tubing, syringes, or other supplies associated with the device
  • Notify the staff member you are working with and complete an electronic Quality Variance Report (e-QVR)

Important facts to know about Ventricular Assist Devices(VADs):

  • A VAD is a mechanical pump that helps a person's weak heart to function like a healthy heart
  • VADs have internal and external components
  • VADs maintain life in patients who need them
  • All VAD equipment should be kept close to the patient at all times
  • It is critical that the driveline (tubing exiting the abdomen) does not get tugged or pulled on
  • In the event of an emergency call a code blue and wait for code team direction before starting compressions. (These patients do not typically have pulses)

Radiation Safety

Minimizing risk:

  • Minimize the amount of time you spend close to the source of radiation
    • Work quickly and efficiently to minimize exposure
    • Wear assigned dosimeter badge, when applicable
  • Maximize distance from the radiation
  • Place shielding between you and the radiation
  • If a patient is in isolation, personal protective equipment is worn over shielding devices

Shielding: the use of lead aprons or portable barrier to decrease the intensity of radiation exposure

  • Leaded glasses
  • Thyroid collar
  • Film badge/dosimeter
  • Lead apron

Other ways to control exposure:

  • Never eat, drink or apply cosmetics near radioactive materials
  • Adhere to warning signs for restricted areas
  • Report radiation exposure concerns to the Radiation Safety Officer, 206-386-2723

For further assistance, questions, or concerns, please visit our Contact Information page.