As we celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 12-18, 2017), here are some of the many ways we ensure safe care for our patients at Altru Health System.
Addressing concerns. We diligently address every concern brought forth by patients, families and staff. We encourage patients to provide feedback and/or report any and all safety concerns by privately calling a patient representative.
Assessing fall risk daily. We perform a thorough standardized assessment immediately upon hospital admission, followed by daily assessments to determine individual fall risk. Each patient gets a score—low, moderate or high—and actions are taken to ensure patient safety depending on risk level. Actions may include: bed alarm, chair alarm, patient sitter and/or rounder.
Altru’s inpatient fall rate is 3.45 per 1,000 patient days. This is on the low end of the national, publicly reported inpatient range of 3.3-11.5 falls per 1,000 patient days, according to the NDNQI (National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators) database.
Encouraging honest feedback. Altru has a robust reporting culture for any patient safety or quality care issues. Our reporting structure is non-punitive, encouraging open and honest communication about concerns relating to patient care and safety. In addition to reporting falls, we also document any and all near-falls. This is all tracked in real time to accurately reflect reality and consistently hold staff accountable.
Analyzing errors. If a fall does occur, action is taken immediately. This includes notifying the charge nurse and hospital supervisor, provider and other caregivers, including the patient’s family. We include the patient in a group huddle to assess and revise interventions. Then, a root cause analysis (RCA) is completed to analyze what went wrong and make sure the issue never happens again.
Using the best technology. Healthcare technology can assist staff by providing simple reminders and prompts to keep our patients safe. Electronic medical records can improve the ability to diagnose diseases and reduce—even prevent—medical errors, thus improving patient outcomes.
Washing hands—often and well. Hand hygiene is a great way to prevent infections. Providers might need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, depending on the number of patients and intensity of care. Healthcare providers can explain how and why they clean their hands before, after and sometimes during patient care, and let patients know it’s okay to ask about hand hygiene.
Keeping it clean. Our Environmental Services team uses a number of quality checks to ensure patient rooms are as clean as possible. For example, an “encompass room check” marks 18 touchpoints before and after a room is cleaned to check and score overall cleanliness. This attention to detail doesn’t go unnoticed—we ranked at the 84th percentile (goal was 70th) overall for 2016 in HCAHPS scores for cleanliness. Beyond the basics, we take extra measures keep our environment squeaky clean, from using bleach for C-diff cases to adding new UV light machines to kill 99.9% of bacteria.
Although we are using this week to celebrate our patient safety achievements and increase awareness, safe care is Altru’s focus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
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Lynn Huot has been a nurse for 30 plus years with the past 12 years as a Registered Nurse. She obtained her BSN from Mayville State University in 2016 and is currently the Director of Quality and Patient Safety at Altru Health System. Lynn enjoys spending her free time with her family as well as spending time at the family cabin.