EDITOR’S NOTE: The spread of infection is a serious risk for patients who are admitted in the hospital for a prolonged period of time, or for those patients undergoing surgical procedures. In recognition of National Patient Safety Awareness Week, here’s a quick and helpful list of patient safety must-haves for healthcare organizations:
By Lori Pilla, RN, BSB/M, MBA
Every healthcare organization need supplies and tools to achieve high-quality care, but patient safety resources can be a difficult goal to plan into a hospital budget. Though we tend to think of a hospital as the place where patients find care rather than dangers, patients do face risks inherent to a care giving facility. To ensure patient safety, hospitals often purchase these five must-have supplies, tools and resources:
Falls have become so prevalent in U.S. hospitals that that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will no longer reimburse hospitals for treatment related to falls. Hospitals have a responsibility to purchase products than can reduce the likelihood of falls, minimize the costs of fall-related injuries and maximize patient safety overall. Important fall-related products include:
- Fall risk indicators
- Bed/chair exit alarms
- Floor cushions and mats
- Hip protectors
- Side rail protectors
Supplies to Help Prevent Bloodstream Infections
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41,000 patients per year develop central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs). Researchers have found that using maximal sterile barrier (MSB) precautions during central venous catheter (CVC) placement reduces the risk of CLABSIs. It’s crucial that the CVC inserter wear a mask and cap, a sterile gown and sterile gloves. A head-to-toe sterile drape should also be placed over the patient during the placement or exchange of a catheter. To reduce the risk of CLABSIs, hospitals can also purchase either antimicrobial or antiseptic-impregnated catheters. Many providers even choose to add disinfection cap systems, designed for needle-free valves, to the end of the IV tubing.
Alcohol-Based Hand Rubs
In healthcare settings, clean hands are essential to reducing the spread of pathogens and preventing antibiotic resistance. The widespread availability of hand hygiene products and strict hygiene protocols can protect patients from infections. Alcohol-based rubs, more commonly known as hand sanitizers, are the most effective hand cleaning product, and compared to soap and water, they offer several important benefits
- They are much faster
• They are more accessible than sinks and can be placed in many more locations
• Alcohol-based rubs reduce bacterial counts on hands
• Compared to soap, they are gentler on the skin
Medication Labeling Systems
Medication errors result in 7,000 deaths every year, and the FDA reports that 50 percent of reported medications errors involve discrepancy in naming, labeling or packaging. These are accidents that can be prevented. There are now medication labeling systems specifically designed to work with hospital, pharmacy and laboratory software. They can produce bar coded, blank and combination labels in a wide range of sizes, formats, materials and adhesives as each hospital prefers. Importantly, they can also produce instructional and warning labels that save patients and caregivers from a potentially dangerous error. Because they can print on thermal, laser or dot matrix printers, they do not require hospitals to replace or reconfigure their printers.
As the advances in safety supplies indicate, best practices are going to evolve and compliance requirements will change along with them. Hospital staff need continuing education and access to the latest resources in order to provide top quality care and maintain patient safety. Healthcare organizations must encourage clinicians to stay up-to-date with new innovations, standards and thought leadership.
You do not want to look back on a safety incident thinking, “We didn’t know,” or “We should have purchased ____.” Unfortunately, the healthcare world has had to learn from mistakes and knowledge gaps that shape our current safety practices. Fortunately, you can establish practices and provide resources to prevent history from repeating itself.
Lori Pilla, RN, BSB/M, MBA, is vice president of Clinical Advantage and Supply Chain Optimization for Amerinet.