Patient Safety

At El Camino Hospital take pride in the care we provide. In order to offer you the safest and most effective care possible, we regularly monitor quality measures, and look for opportunities to reduce the chance of error.


At El Camino Hospital take pride in the care we provide. In order to offer you the safest and most effective care possible, we regularly monitor quality measures, and look for opportunities to reduce the chance of error.

Computerized Order Entry

A 1998 study demonstrated that a computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system reduced hospital medication error rates by 55%.

By transmitting orders directly from the ordering physician to the pharmacist, and to the nurse who will administer the medications, many potential errors are avoided (misinterpretation of handwriting is a familiar and all-too-common example).

El Camino Hospital achieved this safety benefit very early when it became the nation's first fully computerized hospital in 1972. After 30 years, virtually all of El Camino's physicians used "the MIS" (medical information system) to enter orders for their patients' care, and we believe that untold thousands of handwriting-related errors alone have been avoided.

This legacy continued, in 2005 when El Camino Hospital upgraded to a state-of the-art CPOE system, "ECHO" (El Camino Hospital On-Line). This system takes advantage of the latest technology to check new drug orders against known patient allergies and other drugs that the patient is taking, and alerts the physician to potential adverse reactions or interactions before the order is submitted. This system also allows the physicians and other care providers to easily view trends in lab results and visualize other patient information by graphing the patient data.

What are We Doing to Prevent Errors?

Medical errors can involve medications, surgery, lab reports, wrong diagnosis, or medical equipment.

El Camino Hospital is actively working to prevent such errors. As an El Camino Hospital patient you can expect:

  • If you are having blood work or radiology testing done as an outpatient, hospital staff will ask you to confirm your name and birth date before any medical service is performed.
  • If you are being admitted to the hospital, you will have an identification band placed on your wrist. Your care team will check your hospital ID band each time they give you a medication, draw blood or take you for tests or procedures.
  • If you are scheduled for surgery, we will ask you to confirm the proper bodily location of your surgery, and will mark the correct surgical site.
  • Physicians use El Camino Hospital's computer system to transmit most medical orders, greatly reducing the risk of human error.
  • However, if your physician needs to communicate any orders regarding your care over the telephone or verbally, your nurse will immediately write down each order and read it back, to confirm its accuracy before it is carried out.
  • We have limited the number of abbreviations that are acceptable for use at El Camino Hospital. Abbreviations that have been shown to cause frequent errors (at our hospital or elsewhere) are not used.
  • We have taken extra precautions to keep work areas where nurses and pharmacists prepare medications clean, quiet and free of distractions.
  • Physicians, nurses and other caregivers cleanse their hands with a disinfectant soap or hand gel before and after physical contact with any patient.
  • To reduce your risk of exposure to the flu while in the hospital, flu shots are available to employees free of charge, and employees are encouraged to receive a flu shot each Fall. In addition, flu shots are available to patients admitted to El Camino during flu season.

How Can You Help?

Our utmost goal is to provide you with high-quality, error-free care. But you or your family advocate can also play a vital role in preventing medical errors. At El Camino we welcome your participation in planning your care. Some ways you can participate:

  • Offer to show your ID wristband to staff when they enter your room.
  • Make sure your physician knows what medications you are currently taking by completing our Universal Medication Form. This includes prescription and over the counter medications, and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
  • Alert your physicians and nurses about any allergies you may have had to medications in the past.
  • Feel free to ask your caregiver if they have washed their hands before providing care to you.
  • Ask staff to explain what they are doing and why. Keeping informed of your plan of care has been shown to contribute to error reduction.
  • Ask questions whenever you do not understand what is going on.
  • Review our Patients' Rights document, which is also posted in the hospital.
  • Review and sign our Notice of Privacy Practices document.

We also invite you to visit these organizations for more information about patient safety:

Your feedback is very important to us. Please let us know how we are doing. If you have any comments or concerns during a hospital stay, please ask to speak to the department manager or one of our hospital administrators. To contact a hospital administrator dial "0" from inside the hospital and an operator will connect you.

If you have a comment about our hospital or our services, after your stay, please leave a message on our Comment Line, 650-988-7263. Calls may remain anonymous if you wish.

To send us a written letter please address it to:

El Camino Hospital
2500 Grant Road, M/S - ECHG51
Mountain View, CA 94040

If you feel a concern has not been adequately addressed by going through these channels, you may contact:

Department of Health Services
100 Paseo de San Antonio, Suite 235
San Jose, CA 95113


Or you may file a complaint with The Joint Commission's Office of Quality Monitoring at 800-994-6610.