Until recently, everyone assumed that patient safety was addressed with such issues as adequate security, emergency preparedness and building safety initiatives. These issues are now referred to as Environment of Care Safety issues. The current definition of patient safety initiatives refers to avoidance of people being harmed as a result of healthcare. Elements of our successful patient safety programs include a wide range of patient safety initiatives, including these basic elements:
Throughout, individual departments and groups of staff members are identifying different safety initiatives that can improve quality as well as patient safety. Here are a few of the programs:
Commonly referred to as bedsores, pressure ulcers are areas of injured skin and tissue usually caused by sitting or lying in one position for too long. Lying in one position for too long puts pressure on certain areas of the body and the pressure can reduce the blood supply to the skin and the tissues under the skin.
This patient safety initiative relies on the teamwork of the Skin Management and Resource Team (SMART). Under the leadership of our certified experts (Wound Ostomy Care Nurses), SMART Team members attend monthly educational meetings, conduct on-unit audits of compliance with our skin care program, provide staff education and ensure that this patient safety initiative related to pressure ulcer prevention stays top of mind for all staff members.
Rapid Response Teams are proving to be an effective safety initiative to save lives. A Rapid Response Team provides extra support if they believe that their patients’ symptoms or complaints may be an indication that their condition is worsening. Anyone can call for the Rapid Response Team to evaluate the patient. An intensive care nurse and a respiratory therapist from the Rapid Response Team evaluate the patient to see if there is a need for a physician, a change in medication or other treatment. The purpose of this patient safety initiative is to provide care at the earliest possible moment.
Another component of our patient safety initiatives program is the “Hands and Bands” campaign in which patients and their family members are encouraged to double-check that every hospital staff member who enters the room washes their hands and checks the identification on the patient’s wristband. Washing hands is an essential safety initiative to prevent the spread of infection from one patient to another, and matching the name on the wristband to prescribed medications and treatments reduces the risk that the patient receives the wrong medication. Members of the hospital’s patient safety committee routinely visit patients to verify that all staff members take the steps identified in this safety initiative.
Hospital-acquired infections affect 1.7 million patients nationally each year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. These infections can prolong recovery, cause other health problems and even be the cause of death for some patients. We have made a commitment to implement safety initiatives that reduce the risk of any patient acquiring an infection once a patient has entered the hospital. These infection prevention initiatives include but are not limited to: