How to make safety monitoring a part of your routine

Hospitals assess patient safety through many different metrics that include compliance with both regulatory and national patient safety goals.

However, to achieve these goals, it is important that hospitals complete rounds that support performance. Rounds based on programs such as Environment of Care, Life Safety, Infection Control and National Patient Safety help to ensure that the hospital has the necessary processes and policies in place to ensure patient safety.

Smart Business spoke with Lynn O’Donnell, MBA, Director of Communications at Sentact, about what hospitals can do to continuously improve safety in their locations.

How do you assess your hospital’s performance when it comes to patient safety?
While each hospital is a unique place and may take a slightly different approach to how it completes work, safety and quality do not allow for much gray area.

Rounds by their very nature are created to develop a routine of checking on patients or monitoring the environment in the hospital. Safety monitoring works best when you highlight the following behaviors:

  Increase awareness on safety issues and make them an organizational priority.
  Communicate with staff regarding current safety issues within the hospital.
  Educate the team on patient safety concepts.

It is recommended that hospitals conduct weekly safety checks because they help to tie together all rounds and corresponding data in a way that can be easily analyzed and communicated to staff/team members.

What are some of the most common oversights when it comes to patient safety?
Many organizations assume that by measuring safety with different types of rounds, a hospital has a safe patient environment. This is only one step in the process. It is important to not overlook the deficiencies that are found during these rounds and review areas that require additional focus.

In addition, a plan for corrective action should be put in place so items are addressed, as well as a strategy to create a plan for improvement so that the same deficiencies don’t continue to repeatedly occur.

How challenging is it to measure whether you have a safe environment?
There will always be elements outside of your control that threaten the safety of your hospital.

However, it is still not difficult to maintain a safe environment if you have the appropriate solutions in place and you instill the commitment needed to continue these practices on a regular basis.

Using a comprehensive rounding solution that gathers data across all disciplines and provides analytics and reports can help an organization determine if it has a culture of true safety, or if steps need to be taken to improve safety.

How do you get everyone engaged in the effort to create and maintain a safer environment?
It is recommended that hospitals incorporate the following practices into their routines:

  Identify your team — Select the appropriate personnel to be included in your weekly safety checks. Individuals should be early adopters of technology and be chosen across different levels such as managers or directors, executives and patient safety personnel.
  Schedule your weekly checks — Strive for consistency by using the same day of the week so your team can schedule their own daily activities to not conflict with rounds, helping to ensure that they don’t lose focus and engagement.
  Complete weekly checks —  Follow the schedule created, complete the necessary weekly checks with a singular focus on safety and record all the data.
  Review data from weekly checks —  Review the data collected with the team and share with other personnel so that you gain both adoption and engagement.

Create a framework that executes best practices and communicates across the health care network so that success engages other participants. Rounding has a great impact both on patient safety and on creating a safer environment for patients.

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