Saturday, September 02, 2006

Patient Safety: "Don't Just Go Through the Motions"

The National Patient Safety Goals typically get plenty of attention when a hospital is scheduled for an accreditation visit or during National Patient Safety Awareness Week.

But constant attention to patient safety is how you can make a real difference for patients, and the hospital as a whole. And you don't have to be a direct patient care provider to have a major impact.

"Providing high quality, safe and efficient patient care is the most important thing that we can do as an organization," said Thomas P. Pipicelli. "Everyone who works at Backus Hospital should know the National Patient Safety Goals, and have an understanding of their own roles in making Backus Hospital the safest possible place for patients."

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) is scheduled to make an accreditation visit at Backus Hospital as early as January 2007, and adherence to the National Patient Safety Goals will be a major focus.

But Peter Shea, MD, Medical Director at Backus, said patient safety should be at the forefront of everyone's minds year-round, at all times, because studies show that mistakes are made when healthcare workers let their guard down, or go on "auto pilot."

Patient safety is most often compromised when a staff member loses focus while doing something they have done successfully a thousand times, he said.

"You can't just go through the motions," Dr. Shea said. "We have to be totally committed to patient safety, every day, and everything else will fall into place."
Over the next several weeks, HospiTell will focus on the importance of each 2006 National Patient Safety Goal, and what the Hospital is doing to adhere to them.

The goals are:

  • Improve the accuracy of patient identification.
  • Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers.
  • Improve the safety of using medications.
  • Reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections.
  • Accurately and completely reconcile medications across the continuum of care.
  • Reduce the risk of patient harm due to falls.

"The National Patient Safety Goals are designed to help organizations like Backus avoid mistakes that compromise patient care," said Karen Long, RN, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. "While it is important to adhere to them for compliance purposes, we are committed to them because it is the right thing to do for our patients. That's the bottom line."

Anyone with questions about the National Patient Safety Goals, or suggestions that can help Backus improve patient safety, can call Mary Bylone, RN, Assistant Vice President of Patient Care Services and Patient Safety Officer, at 860-889-8331 ext. 2771 or Joseph Hughes, Director of Quality Improvement, at 860-889-8331 ext. 2345.

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