If you are part of a major hospital or even a small private practice, patient safety is likely one of your top priorities. However, patient safety is also one of the most easily compromised aspect of healthcare. The term “patient safety” ranges in implications from something as simple as dry floors to more complex issues of allergy identification and documentation. There are too many areas of patient safety to list them all, but here are some of the most general concerns that you should look at in your own institution.
Sanitation and Sterilization
You may have the best cleaning crew in town, but it is so easy to go wrong with a place that requires such extensive and thorough sterilization procedures. You need the right cleaning materials, detergents, chemical disinfectants, and a host of procedures in place to ensure that every inch of the place is clean and safe. In the context of hospitals, the slightest thing can seriously ruin an ill patient’s chance of improvement. This means even your Littmann cardiology 3 stethoscope needs to be cleaned carefully after using it on a patient so as not to compromise the next patient’s wellbeing.
Even the very design of the hospital can jeopardize the safety of a patient. Nurses and doctors need to have easy access to patients in emergency situations. This is why special evidence-based principles of hospital design must be adopted to make sure that all patients’ rooms, bathrooms, and public areas are arranged and equipped for convenience of both patient and staff. For example, decentralized nurses’ stations improve ease of access to patients. Doctors should have quick and easy access to equipment, whether a pulse oximeter or a defibrillator. Single-bed rooms reduce patient risks. Ventilation and air filtration systems need to be optimal, and important areas must be well lit and quiet.
Too many mistakes occur at the hands of overworked, fatigued medical professionals. Even the best doctor in the world cannot prevent a mistake or two if they have not slept in two days. It is vital for the patients that hospital or clinic staff have suitable rotations and shift rosters that allow them at least enough rest to be fit for treating patients. Doctors and nurses who have worked extra-long shifts should have at least a 5-hour protected sleep period at night.
This issue tends to crop up with doctors or nurses, or even the families of patients choose to keep the patient in the dark. This is not only unethical, but it puts the patient at risk. Unless the patient is a child, you must try to educate the patient about every detail of their illness, the medications they are being given, and the treatment options that are available to them. Patients must be informed thoroughly about how to take medication, what to do in case of emergencies, and what to expect from any kind of treatment or pharmaceuticals.
These are just a handful of the ways patient safety must be improved. It is important that you continuously assess the levels of safety for patients around the hospital or clinic. Speak with staff regularly to ensure that these are being followed carefully.