Healthcare News & Insights

5 tips to make your hospital safer

Patient safety is top-of-mind for hospital execs. That’s why so much time and effort goes into researching ways to keep people safe while they’re receiving care in a clinical setting. By far, the most valuable information to come out of this research is evidence-based best practices.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is one source hospital execs can look to for what works and what doesn’t. The agency, which falls under the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, has put together a list of safety-boosting strategies for hospitals.

Here’s five suggestions from their list of Patient Safety Tips for Hospitals:

  1. Prevent central line-associated blood stream infections. Prevent such infections by washing your hands, using full-barrier precautions, cleaning the skin with chlorhexidine, avoiding femoral lines, and removing unnecessary lines. More information on preventing health care-associated infections is  available at http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/hais.htm.
  2. Re-engineer hospital discharges. Decrease your hospital’s readmission rate by assigning a dedicated staff person to coordinate a patient’s discharge plan, including medication and follow-up appointments. An online toolkit for creating a discharge plan you can give to patients when they leave the hospital is available at http://www.bu.edu/fammed/projectred/.
  3. Prevent venous thromboembolism (VTE). A protocol is helpful in preventing VTE, the most common cause of preventable hospital deaths. AHRQ offers a free guide to creating one. To order, visit http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/vtguide/.
  4. Educate patients about using blood thinners safely. Patients are often prescribed blood thinners upon discharge to prevent dangerous blood clots, but, if used incorrectly, patients are at risk for uncontrollable bleeding or other side effects. AHRQ has a free 10-minute video and companion booklet you can give patients to help them understand how to take their blood thinner prescription safely. You can order these resources, available in both English and Spanish, at  http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/btpills.htm.
  5. Insert chest tubes safely. AHRQ recommends using the Joint Commission’s mnemonic UWET to remember best practices for inserting chest tubes: Universal Precautions (use a sterile cap, mask, gown, and gloves); Wider skin prep; Extensive draping; and Tray positioning. AHRQ offers a free DVD you can show your staff to demonstrate common procedural issues. You can order it from http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/chesttubes.htm.

For more ways to improve patient safety in your facility, visit the AHRQ’s website.

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