According to a recent study published by John Hopkins Medicine, medical errors rank as the third leading cause of death in the U.S., just behind heart disease and cancer. It is clear that these mistakes, ranging from patient falls to medication errors, profoundly impact patient outcomes and mortality rates.
Here are five common patient care issues and tips on how your hospital can prevent them.
Slips, trips and falls are extremely common mistakes in hospitals. In fact, an average of 800,000 patient falls occur in the United States each year. This statistic is especially frightening because a patient fall costs $14,000 on average and can add over six days to each hospital stay.
Here are a couple of ways to prevent patient falls:
Ensure the nurse call cable is plugged in -- This will reduce the risk of patients getting up unassisted.
Identify high-risk patients -- Check for history of falls, impaired mobility, altered mental state and medications associated with falls.
Conduct hourly safety rounds -- Purposely checking in on patients on an hourly basis can reduce the risk of patient falls.
More than one million serious medication errors occur every year in U.S. hospitals. These errors include administration of the wrong drug, drug overdoses and overlooked allergies. Tejal Gandhi, president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation stated, “There are many opportunities for a medication order to go wrong—it goes from a physician to a pharmacist, then to a nurse to administer it—and a mistake can happen somewhere along that chain.”
So, when it comes to keeping your patients safe, identify the right patient for the right medication, ask patients about their drug allergies, and employ technology, like Omnicell’s Automated Dispensing Cabinets, to improve medication safety and nurse efficiency.
Lack of Patient Education
Although we continue to improve systems and implement policies to reduce medication errors, many of these may fail unless we put the patient first. A study found that the largest contributor to medication errors is the lack of knowledge about other drugs and preparations the patient is taking, which can lead to negative interactions or overdoses. One way to improve patient education it through the implication of SONIFI Health’s patient education videos. In the end, empowering patients through education is vital, because only patients have the information required to prevent medication errors.
Poor communication is frustrating -- but in healthcare, communication breakdowns can be downright dangerous when it comes to patient care. Some ways to improve communication include encouraging participation in multidisciplinary rounds, instituting team huddles and implementing tablets for patient use. Improving communication benefits both patients and healthcare workers. Additionally, it makes the work environment less stressful and inspires teamwork!
Physicians can’t heal others if they themselves are not well. The safety of the workplace serves as a prerequisite for patient safety. This includes both physical and mental safety of all healthcare employees. A couple of ways to promote workplace safety? Create a positive work culture, practice healthy habits at work (e.g., group yoga and healthy snacks in the breakroom), and encourage comfortable, non-slip shoes for nurses, like Alegria’s Professional Collection. In the end, workers can only perform at their best when they are in an environment of physical and physiological safety.
Overall, keeping patients safe proves the top priority in healthcare. If we could prevent the five common patient care issues listed above, we will be taking a huge leap forward. The answers aren’t extremely complicated or expensive, but they do require focus and collaboration across a range of professionals involved in healthcare. Overall, preventing these problems will make medical care safer and a better experience in general.