It’s Patient Safety Awareness Week: Do Your Part!

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This week, we are celebrating Canadian Patient Safety Week (CPSW). This annual campaign, which started in 2005, focuses on the state of patient safety and quality in the country. It aims to raise awareness and boost the involvement of patients, family, healthcare providers, and the public in promoting best practices in patient safety.

CPSW’s theme, “Ask. Listen. Talk,” encourages patients and healthcare providers alike to ASK questions, LISTEN to the answers, and TALK openly about their concerns in order to improve patient safety.

As healthcare providers, you have a big responsibility in making sure your facilities are safe for your patients. Here are eight helpful tips to guide you in enhancing patient safety in your facility:

  1. Assess and improve your patient safety culture. Survey your hospital staff to evaluate your facility’s patient safety culture. There are surveys available that are designed to provide basic knowledge and tools for evaluating the impact of interventions, improving patient safety culture, and tracking any changes over time. Your patients’ and staffs’ feedback on how to improve patient safety will also help in your assessment.
  2.  Build a cooperative culture. Train hospital staff to work as a team and practice effective communication and other teamwork skills. Encourage employees to help each other when things get busy. Coach supervisors to refrain from pressuring staff members to work faster at the possible expense of patient care.
  3. Limit shift durations for medical residents and other hospital staff if possible. Overworked and over-fatigued staff are more likely to make mistakes. Make sure your people get ample sleep and follow the allowed workweek limit. This will also keep medical staff from getting into motor vehicle accidents and needle stick injuries due to sleep-deprivation.
  4. Implement constant audit of transfer of knowledge about patients between shifts. This ensures that crucial information is not lost or overlooked between patient watch turnovers.
  5. Set up a safety reporting system. Report and share patient safety information with Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs). These organizations have web-based reporting systems where you can log, analyze and compare patient data that can help improve quality by identifying and reducing risks and hazards associated with healthcare.
  6. Equip your facility with adequate emergency first-response tools and equipment. First aid is essential in emergency cases. In hospitals and clinics, unexpected emergency situations can still occur even if a patient is already in their care. First aid tools such as first aid kits, CPR kits, biohazard kits, and eyewash stations offer immediate medical treatment when professional equipment are not yet available on the scene.
  7. Minimize unnecessary interruptions. Lessen distractions during work hours in the hospital, especially in crucial times such as shift changes and administering medicine. Encourage your staff to speak up when needed but create a “silence zone” near medication preparation carts and other areas where utmost concentration is essential.
  8. Apply good hospital design principles in your facility. A well-planned facility can drastically lessen accidents and injuries. Well-designed patient rooms and bathrooms can prevent patient slips, trips, and falls. A de-centralized nurse’ stations offer more access to patients. Reduce infections by improving air-filtration systems, offering single-bed rooms, and providing multiple convenient hand washing areas. Prevent medication mistakes by provide pharmacists with well-lit, quiet private spaces to let them fill out prescriptions without distractions.

The health, safety and comfort of your patients should be your number one priority. Ensuring patient safety is a reflection of high quality health care. You, as a healthcare provider, should always strive hard to provide patients with the safest possible experience, while meeting medical needs with quality experienced care.

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