Advancing Patient Safety Through Renewed Awareness

Amid the constant change and evolution taking place across the healthcare industry, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that healthcare’s core mission—to improve upon and advance patient care and safety—remains unchanged.

As hospitals and healthcare providers around the country celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week March 10th-16th, this week offers a timely reminder that great strides have been made in patient safety, but that there is more work still to be done.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement underscores the need for more vigilance for patient safety by highlighting studies on preventable adverse events, including the fact that medical errors may cause as many as 400,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Similarly, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that, at any given time, 1 in 31 hospitalized patients has an infection acquired in a healthcare setting. In fact, the U.S. Department for Health & Human Services  lists healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) as one of the leading threats to patient safety, noting that HAIs add billions of dollars to healthcare costs and cause tens of thousands of deaths every year.

Errors and lapses in safety can occur in any healthcare setting, which is why it’s critical to continuously consider strategies that could elevate your enterprise’s culture of safety. Plus, in a consumer-first healthcare environment, lapses in patient safety can put your organization in serious jeopardy—both financially and reputation-wise.

Steps to Promote Patient Safety and Patient Engagement:

  1. Do you have a visible champion of patient safety? Is there a high-level, senior leader who supports a culture of safety at your hospital? If so, is this part of that individual’s job description?
  2. How do you measure patient safety success and failures? Having metrics that can measure performance is critical in accurately developing and/or meeting goals around patient safety. Goals could include reducing HAIs, for instance. 
  3. Is patient safety part of your organization’s mission statement? A visible commitment to patient safety communicates that reducing errors and enabling efficient, effective care is your hospital’s top priority. 
  4. How do you hold your hospital accountable for patient safety? If your internal, high-level patient safety advocate is solely responsible for holding the hospital accountable, then it’s worth considering embedding additional layers of accountability. For instance, this could be done by having a dedicated safety nurse on each floor or wing of the hospital.

With these questions in mind, use Patient Safety Awareness Week to celebrate the work your hospital has done and weigh other future safety initiatives.

Find a Trusted EHR Partner to Do the Work

Since patient safety awareness should be prioritized year round, MEDHOST partners with companies like The Sullivan Group, which helps advance EHR technology to promote key patient safety considerations through real-time clinical decision support embedded into natural workflows. Specifically, honing in on preventing diagnostic errors—or the mistakes and failures in the diagnostic process leading to a missed or delayed diagnosis—is essential, especially as 6 to 17 percent of adverse hospital events are attributed to diagnostic errors. Moreover, diagnostic errors are the most common type of medical malpractice claim and are two times as likely as other claims to result in patient death.

As an additional feature within MEDHOST’s Emergency Department Information Systems (EDIS), your organization can implement the Risk Mitigation Module (RMM) that integrates real-time patient safety and risk management notifications, allowing providers to focus more on patient care. Utilizing the RMM within MEDHOST’s EDIS can actively help your facility not only reduce variability in patient care but also improve clinical documentation and compliance.

In a recent case study from The Sullivan Group, one facility noticed significant changes in their RSQ® (Risk, Safety, Quality) score only 90 days after the RMM activation. The physicians’ overall RSQ® scores radically improved from 77 to 99 percent, a 22 percent jump. Historically, higher RSQ® scores have correlated to a reduction in missed and delayed diagnosis malpractice claims.

Let your EHR do some of the hard work for you in an effort to better equip you to circumvent some of the systematic causes of diagnostic error, including inadequate communication, an inefficient work system, lack of safety culture and limited performance data.

To learn more about The Sullivan Group, check out their blog and featured case study, Reducing Diagnosis-Related Claims.

Ready to escalate the culture of patient safety at your healthcare facility? Email us at inquiries@medhost.com or call 1.800.383.6278 to speak with one of our specialists to learn how MEDHOST can implement technology-driven solutions that help prioritize risk management.

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