How To Ensure Patient Safety in Hospitals With 7 Practices
The US healthcare system has never been without its issues – it has been facing several challenges for years now. However, the pressures introduced by the novel coronavirus takes the cake, as these are the biggest challenges it has faced in recent times. While the existing payment models already put pressure on healthcare providers, the pandemic introduced tremendous losses for every healthcare facility. – a staggering $323 billion at least in 2020, as per AHA (the American Hospital Association). Another prominent issue is infection control within healthcare facilities as COVID-19 cases are rising at a frightening rate. Thus, ensuring patient safety and reducing hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are the topmost priorities currently, as providers struggle to contain the situation. Let’s see how to ensure patient safety within healthcare facilities with seven practices.
Come up with a plan
Although this might seem quite ordinary, not many healthcare providers have effective plans at hand. Instead of making a plan along the way, creating a well-researched one in advance will be extremely beneficial, especially if it includes worst-case scenarios. Whether to open the facilities in phases or at once, at what capacity, and inventorying crucial materials such as PPE are just some aspects that need to be addressed via the plan.
Create policies that support patient safety
Policies that know how to ensure patient safety, as well as the safety of the frontline teams, must also be created and followed strictly.
As previously mentioned, PPE is a very important component to ensure the safety of everyone within the facilities. A policy that ensures that hospitals have enough PPE in hand at all times is a must, as the demand for them is quite high. Doing so will enhance patient outcomes as such a policy can help prevent unwanted disruption while providing critical care.
An effective policy regarding infection control is a must-have, as many healthcare facilities will very likely face cases of HAIs.
The infection control policy must include the following aspects:
- The dos and don’ts regarding HAIs
- Identifying the source and the affected individuals
- Isolating the infected individuals
- Duration of isolation
Enforce everyone to follow even the smallest rules
Even a small mistake might lead to HAIs right now, thus, enforcing rules that promote patient safety is critical. While most healthcare providers are attending to COVID-19 patients, not all of the patients that come to the hospitals are infected. Many might have symptoms and not the virus itself. Thus, it is crucial to keep the COVID-19 positive patients separate from the potential ones, and for that, enforcing the smallest rules is a must.
Every part of the facility must clearly enforce social distancing rules. Ensure that every individual is wearing masks, standing at least six feet apart, and have limited physical contact with surface materials. Placing posters at clearly visible places and placing stickers on the floor showing where individuals must stand are some common practices. Even after all this, there might be many who do not follow the rules – how to ensure patient safety with such cases? Well, incorporating the message “No mask, no service” in bold letters in the posters, especially upon entrance, will motivate patients to follow the rules properly.
Encourage frontline teams to thoroughly and regularly wash hands
Although this is a practice that might fit under the aforementioned points, the importance of handwashing cannot be overstated. Experts such as WHO recommend handwashing, as it is one of the first answers that come up when asked: “how to ensure patient safety”. Frontline teams, as well as all of the healthcare staff members, must wash their hands with antimicrobial agents thoroughly, especially after interacting with patients’ materials such as secretions, blood, contaminated items, and so on.
If possible, place automatic sanitizer dispensers so that it provides a touchless experience and enhances safety for everyone involved – but more on that later.
Clean surfaces and materials regularly
Keeping environmental surfaces clean at all times is a must, as viruses can linger on them for days. Using effective disinfectants to clean surfaces that are prone to touches, such as door handles, beds, etc. can enhance patient safety, as it reduces HAIs.
Moreover, reusable patient materials must be cleaned thoroughly and immediately before processing and providing to the next patient – bed sheets, gowns, and glasses are some examples.
Providing infection control training
One of the most essential practices hospitals can utilize is provide training on how to ensure patient safety to their employees. While healthcare workers are overwhelmed currently, providing them with training regarding HAIs, infection control, and patient safety can raise awareness and keep them vigilant about hygiene. Moreover, the sessions can use examples where providers successfully avoid HAIs and encourage employees to incorporate their practices, if possible.
Using touchless solutions
Thanks to how quickly information can be transmitted from one part of the world to another, virtually everyone knows about COVID-19, and how it can be contracted via touches. As a result, using touch-based materials can prove to be dangerous.
Imagine if a patient or a caregiver is using a sanitizer that requires physical contact. Since this is a healthcare facility, chances are extremely high that a COVID-19 positive individual might have come into contact with it. Thus, as previously mentioned, using touchless, automatic sanitizer dispensers can be an effective way to reduce HAIs. While deploying such devices might be costly, the benefits far outweigh the costs, as a single incident might lead to outbreaks.
One overlooked but critical issue many healthcare providers face is patient misidentification. It leads to preventable medical errors, duplicate medical records, patient mix-ups, repeated lab tests, and readmissions – impacting healthcare outcomes and compromising patient safety significantly.
To prevent such cases, caregivers use patient identification solutions. However, the best one right now is the platform that doesn’t require any physical contact – RightPatient. It s a touchless biometric patient identification solution that is used by several caregivers, and it uses patients’ photos to identify their medical records across any touchpoints in the care continuum. By locking the medical records with patients’ photos, the platform requires patients to only look at the camera – providing a touchless, hygienic, and safe experience, ensuring patient safety and quality care in the process.