How safe do you feel in hospitals?

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How safe do you feel in hospitals?

By Scott Kennedy, Director, Product Management, Connexall

Has your life ever changed in 10 minutes? Are you asking the right questions?

I spent 5 days in the hospital in September 2017. I was admitted, because I was having trouble breathing and had pains in my chest. The medical staff acted quickly and inserted a tube into the space between my right lung and chest wall, draining 3 litres of fluid over three days … a procedure called thoracentesis. I only noticed my symptoms, because I was competing in races and the harder that I ran… the more my lungs expanded and pressed the fluid against my chest, causing pain. Fortunately, this is quite a common procedure. Once the fluid was drained, I was able to breathe easier. However, it did reveal that I had cancer…non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Treatable, but it was a challenging process to go through. I am thankful to the skilled and dedicated team that helped get me back up and running.

Upon checking out of the hospital, I was prescribed medication to deal with nausea. Like many of us, we take our meds without question. We are happy to leave the hospital and get home as quickly as possible. In my case, I lined up at the hospital’s pharmacy with the intent to fill my prescription. After waiting 10 minutes, I decided that it was taking too long, and I would fill it outside of the hospital. An hour later, I dropped the prescription off at my local pharmacy. The pharmacist has known me since childhood and called me to say that there must be an error in the prescription. The prescribed dosage was double the recommended amount. Fortunately, my local pharmacist was quick to question the prescription. She called the doctor and confirmed that this was an error. By taking this medication, I may have had complications with my recovery.

It is in our nature to trust caregivers …sometimes without question. However, anyone can make a mistake…. especially in a stressful environment, such as a hospital. A recent Johns Hopkins study suggests that “medical errors” are the “third leading cause of death in the US”. According to the study, “250,000 people in the US die every year due to medical errors[1]. Fortunately, there are organizations that provide guidance to minimize these risks and improve patient safety.  The Joint Commission is one such organization. In the US, The Joint Commission established its National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) program in 2002. These goals were established to help health care administrators and facilities address and improve upon specific areas of concern in regard to patient safety. [2]

2019 National Patient Safety Goals

According to the Joint Commission, “National Patient Safety Goals are a series of specific actions that accredited organizations are required to take in order to prevent medical errors such as miscommunication among caregivers, unsafe use of infusion pumps, and medication mix-ups. A panel of national safety experts has determined that taking these simple, proven steps will reduce the frequency of devastating medical errors.” [2]

Many of this year’s goals focus on problems caused by the mismatch of information. This is not only related to correctly identifying patients but also their medication, treatment, behavior and assigned staff.

Measuring, monitoring and documenting are elements present in many of the goals. Systems with advanced reporting, like Connexall, can help track the point of origin of problems that affect patients or staff.  

Stay Educated

The Joint Commission points out that education is key to achieving these goals. Giving staff training is always important but ensuring that patients are aware of associated risks and ways to prevent them helps to reduce errors. The burden should not only be on the caregiver. Patients must remember to ask caregivers questions, when in doubt of medications and procedures. Practices that include patient involvement and awareness can improve patient safety and help facilities maintain NPSGs. 

All these goals work together to ensure the right person receives the right treatment, communication happen between with the right individuals and dangerous behaviours are mitigated. Facilities following these recommendations can expect reduced costs and increased patient and staff safety.

I often wonder what would have happened if I did not step out of line at the hospital’s pharmacy and instead proceeded to ingest the original dosage. We must always ask questions and work closely with our caregivers. I believe that a strong community is a connected community. To stay connected, we must be an educated community and share information that may help others.

At Connexall, we equip healthcare facilities with the tools they need to help meet and exceed NPSGs. Follow this information series on our Blog and social media channels to learn about the different ways that we can help.

How can Connexall help?

There are a wide number of features in our platform that can help you reach or maintain the National Patient Safety Goals [3], some of them are:

  1. Identify patients correctly: Connexall’s automated notifications communicate important patient information securely and accurately, which reduce patient mix-ups during transport. Connexall also has a newly patented solution that detects patient identity mismatches within different systems.
  2. Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers: Special workflows have been implemented in our platform to rapidly deliver critical results and important alarms to responsible caregivers anywhere in the facility.
  3. Use medicines safely: Prior to a scheduled hospital visit, Connexall sends the patient an appointment reminder notification with a request to bring in their up-to-date list of medicines. Upon admission, Connexall sends a rounding reminder to staff to ensure that medication reconciliation is completed. Connexall can also send reminders to patients at home to follow prescribed medication routines.
  4. Reduce the harm associated with clinical alarm systems: Our platform has processes and patented solutions built around providing the best alarm management system in the industry. Connexall integrates to new and existing systems within healthcare facilities in order to gather important information and deliver alarms to the right caregiver at the right time, on the right device.
  5. Prevent infection: Connexall has a variety of automated solutions to facilitate and track hygiene compliance and help to prevent the spread of infection within a facility.
  6. Identify patient safety risks: Upon admission, Connexall sends staff a reminder to complete a patient survey when appropriate. When a patient survey indicates a suicidal threshold score, Connexall notifies the appropriate care team.
  7. Prevent mistakes in surgery: During the patient’s journey from admission to discharge and through the OR, Connexall’s automated notifications help to ensure that patient information is communicated accurately.

Learn more

The Joint Commission has reported that the amount of serious medical errors occurring in United States healthcare facilities remains unacceptably high [4].

The 360°Connexall engagement program has been designed to help hospitals meet and maintain their patient safety goals and improve quality of care with the Data & Analytics to prove it

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