As healthcare facilities continue to grow and evolve, so do concerns over patient safety in those facilities. Though hospitals are intended to be places of healing, they also have to manage a large number of possible dangers. According to the ECRI Institute, these are the 10 biggest safety concerns for 2015.
10. Weight-related medication errors.
9. Inadequate patient transport.
8. Inadequate reprocessing of endoscopes and surgical equipment.
7. Opioid-related incidents.
6. Failure to conduct independent double-checks.
5. Care coordination events related to medication reconciliation.
4. Mix-up of IV lines leading to misadministration of drugs and solutions.
Here’s where it gets interesting…the top 3 safety concerns noted by the ECRI Institute are also those that can be impacted by your hospital’s infrastructure – meaning the systems and processes you have in place for your building management, security, IT, power, and more.
3. Managing patient violence. Violent behavior in patients is more common in healthcare facilities than any of us would like, and patient behavioral problems put staff, visitors, and patients at risk.
Video surveillance, access control, staff duress, visitor management, and asset and patient location monitoring are all vital components in safeguarding your hospital. With integrated security management, these systems work together to create the safest possible environment for staff and patients.
2. Data integrity: incorrect or missing data in EHRs and other health IT systems. Computerized IT in healthcare comes with a host of huge benefits: however, technology can provide safety risks if it isn’t implemented and monitored properly. Missing, incorrect, or corrupted electronic health records (EHRs) can put patients in life-threatening situations.
In addition, if EHRs are not available due to issues, such as overheating or power loss in the data closet or data center, then patient care comes to a screeching halt. Secure power and cooling solutions are vital to keeping EHRs online all the time.
1. Alarm hazards: inadequate alarm configuration policies and practices. Some of the fears over alarm hazards stem from alarm fatigue. When hospital staffs become accustomed to noises they are surrounded with every day, they consequently tune them out, which can lead to failure to respond to critical events, putting patients’ lives in danger. The large majority of actual problems, though, come primarily from failure to configure alarm systems properly; rather than staff failing to hear them, the alarms simply fail to go off. Either way, this could lead to a lack of care for patients who urgently need it, causing complications or death.
Hospitals need to reduce noise for the sake of their staff and their patients. They can do so with noise monitoring solutions that visualize the noise occurring in the hospital, providing the information they need to make adjustments in their noise reduction strategies. In addition, improved communication between patients and nurses through mobile applications, can not only reduce overhead noise, but also ensure nurses receive alarms specific to their patients to improve overall patient care.
So how can healthcare providers alleviate these concerns? Some solutions are specific to their problems, but there are also broad strategies which can address multiple areas of concern. One is thorough education for hospital staff: the risk of issues from patient violence to inadequate equipment reprocessing can be reduced by expanding staff access to information and education. Another strategy is to integrate and improve facility technology through solutions like StruxureWare for Healthcare, which can improve communication between your infrastructure systems as well as hospital employees and the patients they care for.
There are dangers when walking into any type of building. But for hospitals, we need to take extra care that the building itself is not contributing to the problem. Instead, we can use the hospital infrastructure to help reduce risk as much as possible by removing the opportunity for human error, equipment failure, and miscommunication. Facility staff and management should approach technology innovations with concerns like these in mind, to create the safest possible environments for patients.
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Is your hospital taking innovative steps to address any of these concerns? What safety concerns are missing from this list? Tell us about them in the comments!