By Dr. Jyoti Mishra
There is no doubt that a hospital is the best place to receive treatment for any health condition. This makes providing quality healthcare a must for these institutions. To provide the best patient care and healthcare services, hospitals around the world also work 24X7, leaving no stone unturned. However, despite giving paramount importance to patient safety, some hospitals inadvertently commit lapses.
Such lapses, although unintentional, can harm patients in one way or the other. This makes patient safety the cornerstone of high-quality health care.
What is patient safety?
In simple terms, patient safety is how hospitals and other healthcare facilities safeguard their patients’ wellness by avoiding errors, injuries or accidents that may harm or endanger lives. These errors or mistakes can be in the form of medication errors, diagnostic errors, or defective devices.
How can hospitals ensure patient safety?
· Avoiding or managing infections
The risk of infection can never be eliminated completely at hospitals as some people have a higher risk of acquiring infection than others. Lung, urinary tract, wound, and bloodstream infections can be picked during a stay in hospital. These are called ‘healthcare-associated infections’ or ‘hospital-acquired infections’. Such infections can be avoided by practicing infection control protocols, ensuring proper sanitation in care units, and conducting transfusion and surgical procedures under the supervision of senior nurses or doctors.
· Effective communication
Effective communication is crucial to an error free and accurate operational activities at a hospital where every second is dedicated to saving a life. Verbal communication of patient care or medication orders by the clinicians to nursing staff should be limited to only life-threatening situations when the time spent for documentation may jeopardise the life of the patient. Apart from that, extra care which includes hand hygiene Catheter A line Care, should be given to critical result reporting and handover communication.
· Personal information security
A patient’s information can be sensitive and therefore, it is prone to be misused. All hospital staff, including the administration and medical care team, must take reasonable precautions to protect personal health information from unauthorized access, improper use, disclosure, unlawful destruction, and accidental loss. Staff or nurses who have your personal health information must maintain the security of that information.
· Medication safety
Hospitals can adopt procedures to minimize the risk of patients being given the wrong medication or the wrong dose. For instance, nurses can check their ID band and the dosage instructions before giving them medication. Patients should also be instructed not to take any other medication while they are in hospital, including herbal supplements or remedies, without the consent of doctors.
· Avoiding falls
During your stay in the hospital, you may be unsteady on your feet due to your illness, age, or injury. This can lead to falls and fall-related injuries that include sprains, joint dislocations, and head injuries. These injuries may result in a longer hospital stay. To reduce the risk of falls, hospitals can use advanced monitoring equipment. For instance, bed alarms could notify nurses on duty in case a patient falls off the bed or requires medical attention.
· Identify patients correctly
There are two primary identifiers for patient’s identification: full name of the patient and UHID number. Patient room number or location should never be used as patient identifier. The categorization of patient wrist bands would also make the process more effective.
In addition to the above-mentioned pointers, improving the safety of high-alert medications and ensuring safe surgery are also critical to patient safety. The recent unprecedented health crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the healthcare system’s crucial role in ensuring patient safety. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a cornerstone of patient safety is a continuous improvement based on learning from errors and adverse events.
(The author is a Medical Superintendent, & Unit Head, Aakash Healthcare. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)