patient safety infection control in healthcare

Key Steps To Keeping Infections Low For Your Patients During and After Surgery

patient safety infection control in healthcare

Strong infection control policies are an important factor to maintaining patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

The following is a guest post on how infection control impacts patient safety in healthcare.

While most patients undergoing surgery do not experience infection, surgical site infections still present a consistent challenge for surgeons and their patients. Surgical wound infections are one of the more common types of surgical site infection and postoperative complications. Detected approximately one week following a surgery, surgical wound infections are often attributed to poor surgical technique and contamination of the operative field.

The primary symptoms of surgical site infections are redness and pain at the surgical site, cloudy fluid draining from wound, and fever. Surgical wound infections will become red and inflamed if infection occurs.

When surgical site infections do occur they can raise treatment costs substantially. This is due to the fact that they necessitate prolonged hospitalization, antibiotic treatment, diagnostic care, and in rare cases, additional surgery.

Unfortunately, eliminating bacterial exposure of patients entirely pre-, during, and post-surgery is not possible. This is why broad-spectrum antibiotic use has become de rigeur for nearly all surgeries conducted with an anaesthetic. However, even this preventive method does not prevent all infections, and additional steps should be taken. Contrary to popular belief, pre-surgery preparations can be just as important as precautions taken during and after surgery.

Before Surgery

Surgeons often fixate on sterilization practices that pertain to them, sometimes at the expense of site sterilization of the patient. While washing the hands and arms up the elbows with antiseptic soap and wearing a mask, gloves, and gown are certainly important, the cleansing of the surgical site and attention to the patient are just as important.

Skin at and around the surgical site should be washed with an antibacterial soap, prior to the patient’s arrival in the operating room. The patient should also be sure to wear a fresh, clean hospital gown to the surgery. Even though the surgical site will be dressed post-procedure, this will reduce any additional exposure is critical to reducing infection rates as much as possible.

The patient should also be advised to not shave the area in the 48 hours leading up to surgery since razors can irritate the skin, making the area more prone to infection. If hair removal needs to occur in order to increase visibility of the site, it should be clipped rather than shaved.

In many instances, it is also advisable to administer preoperative antibiotics. Awareness of any other health indicators, such as a history of diabetes or smoking, can also help determine the patient’s likelihood for infection.

During Surgery

During surgery, the anaesthesiologist may be of more use in preventing infection than the surgeon. There is evidence that maintaining normothermia and supplementing with oxygen can help to reduce the risk of surgical infection. Consulting with the anaesthesiologist prior to surgery in order to develop an ideal procedure can be useful.

While concern for maintaining sterile surgical tools and a sterile field are certainly important, it is also imperative to consider that most contamination comes from the patient’s own microbiology. Bacteria, yeast and viral strains living on the patient’s skin are the primary source of contamination.

This necessitates the use of a pre-surgical scrub at the operation site. Those used most commonly are iodine- or chlorhexidine-based solutions. Alcohol-based solutions work differently than the first two by denaturing bacterial cell walls. There is some evidence that using a combination of scrub preparations yields better results.

Microbiota within the organ cavity may also play a role. The area of the body operated on is a key determinant in the prevalence of certain infections over others. For instance, cardiac, neurosurgery and ophthalmic surgery all carry increased risk of S aureus infection. Noncardiac thoracic surgery also increases risk of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection. Abdominal and gastrointestinal surgeries carry an increased risk of infection by gram-negative bacilli.

Being mindful of the operative field and reducing the number of tissues a single instrument touches can help to reduce infection rates.

how to improve patient safety in healthcare through infection control

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

After Surgery

Hand washing is just as important following the operation as it is in the scrub room. Advise nurses and all other staff to wash their hands prior to interacting with the patient, and certainly before assisting with examinations or arranging bed clothing. The patient’s visitors should also be advised to wash their hands and discouraged from touching the wound site or dressing.

When the patient is ready to be discharged, make sure that they have received clear instructions on how to care for their wound, quizzing them and caretakers if needed. Antibiotic care should be continued as indicated. Insisting on your availability for any questions involving follow up treatment can go a long way towards making sure that your patient takes the best care possible, preventing postoperative infection.

Mindful attention to detail in the prevention of infection from the time is admitted into the hospital to the time that they leave is the only way to reduce infection rates.

Key Steps To Keeping Infections Low For Your Patients During and After SurgeryAuthor Bio: Andrew is a keen student studying to become a dentist. His passion for dentistry first ignited when visiting his father at the local practice he worked for. He currently writes for Twentytooth.com and hopes that after studying he can open his own dental practice and help people in need with their oral health.

implement iris recognition for patient identification in healthcare

Patient Safety a Focal Point for Latest RightPatient Deployment

implement iris recognition for patient identification in healthcare

Community Medical Centers recently implemented RightPatient to improve patient safety and revenue cycle management. (Photo courtesy of The Fresno Bee.)

Working to help increase patient safety in healthcare, Community Medical Centers (CMC) in Fresno, CA knew that implementing RightPatient using photo biometrics for patient identification was a step in the right direction. With a quick snap of a camera, patients can now rest assured that their medical identities are protected and clinicians will always have the most up-to-date, comprehensive medical record in their possession during treatment and care. 

The benefits of RightPatient extend beyond protecting patient medical identities however. A recent article in The Fresno Bee that covered the deployment of photo biometrics for patient identification at CMC illustrates the negative effect that chart corrections were having at the facility and how this was impacting revenue cycle management. The article states:

“Charting errors usually are caught early, before any treatment begins, but having to move information into the right chart is time consuming and expensive: Community Medical Centers spends about $190,000 a year to research and correct mismatched charts, she said. And that amount doesn’t include the approximately $300,000 a year the hospital system has estimated it loses on accounts that can’t be billed to insurance companies because the patient identification is incorrect.” (Source: http://bit.ly/2qaFJtw)

RightPatient helps establish accurate patient identification to ensure proper billing at CMC with the potential to drastically reduce chart corrections and increase CMC’s revenue collections. This is often an overlooked benefit of implementing biometrics for patient ID in healthcare.

Take a look at the video covering the deployment of RightPatient at CMC here:

Are you seeking to improve patient safety, reduce the time and money spent reconciling chart corrections, and increase revenue? RightPatient may be the answer. Contact us today for a free demo and let us help direct you on the path of accurate patient ID so you can realize the benefits of other healthcare organizations using photo biometrics.

5 Tools and Tips for Safely Transporting Patients

patient safety in healthcare

Learn more about 5 practical tips to increase patient safety during transportation.

The following guest post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Dixie Somers.

Patient transportation is a key component of most hospital care, and if you are in any role in the hospital that brings you into direct patient contact, you will have a part in this vital event as well. Whether you are the unit clerk inputting transport orders or the registered nurse who prepares the patient for transport, you are responsible for the safety and the comfort of the patient. Consider these five tips that will help you safely transport patients between rooms and floors.

Use a “Ticket to Ride”

A “ticket to ride” is a piece of paper that goes with the patient as he or she is transported to a different area of the hospital. It keeps your patient safe by providing transport personnel as well as personnel in the unit to which the patient is going with pertinent patient information. Information that should be included would be patient name, allergies, procedure to be performed, safety risks and information about mobility.

Correctly Identify the Patient

Before a patient is transported, he or she should be correctly identified to the transport personnel using at least two pieces of pertinent data, such as name and birth date. Not knowing their medical history is dangerous for unidentified patients, so it’s important to use a technology like biometrics to verify their identity if they are unconscious.

Bring Appropriate Equipment

Depending on the patient, certain equipment may be needed for safe transportation. For example, you may need to gather a wheelchair or a stretcher. You may also need to ensure that an IV pole, oxygen tank or heart monitor accompanies the patient. Keep the patient safe at all times by locking devices when they are in a stopped position and by keeping side rails up on stretchers.

Using Transfer Boards or Rollers for Bed-Ridden Patients

A transfer board or roller will take a great deal of the weight out of the patient when you are moving them from one bed to a stretcher for transportation. Be sure to maintain the patient’s dignity at all times by using gowns and blankets and by closing the door or curtain to the patient’s room. Always have at least two people to help a mobile patient get out of bed and at least four people to help move an immobile patient from one bed to a stretcher. If you do not have adequate staff for transport and you injure your back, meet with a personal injury attorney who can help you recoup your financial losses for physical and emotional trauma.

Incorporate Gait Belts for Mobile Patients

Patients who are able to walk should still be secured using a gait belt placed comfortably yet snugly below the armpits. The gait belt will ensure that the patient does not fall while walking down a hallway. It is important to use the belt even if the patient is holding onto a walker because hospital hallways can be slippery.

With the incidence of patient identification errors on the rise today, you must be sure that you are transporting the correct patient and that you are doing so safely. In fact, up to 10% of patients are misidentified in hospital records and around 6% of these individuals experience negative health consequences. Be sure that you are part of the cure for your patients by using these tips to keep them comfortable and secure during hospital transportation.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger from Phoenix, Arizona, who loves most to write for health, technology, and business niches. Dixie is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

patient safety in dentistry

5 Basic Procedures for Dental Patient Safety

patient safety in dentistry

Establishing patient safety in dentistry is equally as important as patient safety in clinical environments. (Photo courtesy of Fotolia)

The following guest post on patient safety in dentistry was submitted by Chris Hinchly.

Patient safety efforts are meant to prevent unintentional harm to patients due to healthcare. When providing surgical and medical treatment, medical experts have found it quite difficult to keep accidents from occurring. The inability of healthcare professionals to prevent these accidents was the main reason why patient safety was introduced as a discipline in healthcare. For a long time, healthcare providers have been interested in the safety of their patients. For them, it is a legal and ethical duty to ensure that their patients are safe.

Nowadays, many healthcare providers measure and record damage inflicted unintentionally on patients and seek ways in which it can be avoided in future. Dentistry has been doing poorly in terms of keeping patients safety.

One effective way of prevent damage to patients in dentistry is reporting the adverse events so they can be investigated. Organizations such as the World Dental Federation (WDF) and the General Board of Dentistry and Stomatology (OESPO) in Spain have come up with initiatives to prevent risks in dentistry. The following are five basic procedures that will ensure dental patient safety.

1. Healthcare Systems to Prioritize Patient Safety

Patient safety in any branch of medicine has to start with the healthcare system as a whole. Medical practitioners should make the safety of patients a goal as they go about their business. They need to be keen on medical procedures so as to prevent any injuries. Members of a dental team should also make it their responsibility to report errors and accidents and discuss it amongst themselves when they hold staff meetings.

2. Dentists to Focus on Clinical Records

The importance of clinical records cannot be overemphasized. According to OESPO, a dentist ought to check the patient’s medical history before treatment. It is also important that clinical records showing allergies, pathologies and medication be updated regularly. All these measures aim at helping the dentist to treat the patient without making any unnecessary errors.

3. Avoid Reuse of Tools and Packaging Material Meant for Treatment Only

One of the main causes of errors in dentistry is the reuse of containers to package other materials. It brings about a lot of confusion as the dental care providers may end up giving the wrong treatment. If a particular material is to be disposed after use, dentists should ensure that it is done. If reused, these disposable materials may spread infections among patients. Containers should not be reused because they have fewer preservatives and could infect the areas where they kept.

4. Be Cautious When Prescribing Medication

Giving the wrong prescription in dentistry is something that occurs often. Medical experts in this field, however, can take measures to ensure cases like this are eliminated. One way is letting the patient know about the prescription. Give the details: when to take, number of injections, duration and tell the patient the importance of following the doctor’s advice.

The dentist should also look at the patient’s medical history before making any prescriptions. Keenness on the doses given is also crucial. Talking to their patients and recording their reaction to medication is also equally vital.

5. Readiness for Emergencies

Emergency cases in dentistry are few but when they happen when the dental team is not prepared. It can be a painful experience for the patient. The goal here is for members of the dental team to be ready with treatment, and know their roles once they are informed that they need to attend to an emergency situation. During this situation, dentists should keep close to the patients and accompany them in the event that they are transferred to another medical facility.

Many of the adverse events happening in dental care are as a result of a few mistakes. These basic procedures will help significantly reduce their occurrence.

Chris is an SEO technician with a love for creativity and copywriting. Born and raised in the audio-visual trade, Chris is a huge enthusiast of all things Technological and loves writing about it, especially Digital Gadgets and Internet Marketing. Chris also has numerous experience copywriting in the medical and dental industry.

RightPatient for patient ID to reduce duplicate medical records

Photo Biometrics Patient Identification Testimonial – University Health Care System

RightPatient for patient ID to reduce duplicate medical records

The University Health Care System implemented RightPatient to help protect patient safety and reduce duplicate medical records.

We always relish an opportunity to visit hospitals and healthcare organizations who have made the smart choice to adopt photo biometrics for patient identification. Who better to share their story about events and conditions that lead to their decision to invest in RightPatient® Cloud?

We had an opportunity to sit down with George Ann Phillips, Administrative Director, Revenue Cycle at University Health Care in Augusta, GA to ask her why the hospital decided to invest in photo biometrics to increase patient safety, reduce chart corrections, duplicate medical records, improve revenue cycle collections, and humanize health IT by linking the patient’s photo to their electronic health record (EHR). Prior to implementing RightPatient®, University’s situation was not much different than many other healthcare organizations – a desire to prevent duplicate medical records, improve patient safety, streamline registration, and improve the patient experience.

After carefully evaluating RightPatient® against other biometric modalities, University decided that photo biometrics was a smarter investment and would help them to achieve their aforementioned goals. University staff liked the fact that by capturing the patient’s photo and storing it in the RightPatient® Cloud, they suddenly had the means to identify patients at any point along the care continuum – before portal login, during telemedicine sessions, and prior to administering medication or providing any clinical service. Clinicians immediately offered positive feedback to George Ann saying that having the patient’s photo linked to their medical record was an outstanding way to personalize their approach and gave them additional piece of mind to avoid any medical errors.

George Ann also pointed out that she was much more comfortable implementing photo biometrics because it supported hospital infection control policies and did not require the patient to touch any device to avoid the risk of contracting an illness or spreading germs. RightPatient® is the only biometric patient ID solution that is contactless and the only solution that truly has the ability to identify a patient no matter where they are along the care continuum. No other biometric identification solution can claim this.

University’s return on investment (ROI) has been strong since adopting RightPatient®:

  • 20% reduction in chart corrections
  • 99% patient acceptance (54,000+ patients enrolled so far)
  • Rapid deployment expansion to physician offices
  • Positive feedback from C-suite
  • Clinicians love seeing the patient’s photo
  • Streamlined patient registration
  • Improved patient experience

Take a moment to watch the short video here:

 

Thank you to George Ann Phillips and Beverly Bell from University for their assistance to make this video. Please share with a friend or colleague!

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

The Last 10 Years: How Technology Has Increased Patient Safety

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

Advances in health IT have increased patient safety in healthcare.

The following guest post on how health IT technology has increased patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Hannah Whittenly.

With healthcare demand growing in an aging population, medicine has become a competitive field. It’s increasingly difficult for administrators and staff to manage facilities and costs while still maintaining quality and safety in patient care. Thankfully, new technologies over the past decade are helping to keep patients protected. Here are just a few of them:

Image Archives
Picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) are cross-platform, online repositories for medical imaging records like x-rays and MRIs. PACS enables file sharing so that medical consultants and specialists from anywhere in the world can review diagnostic imaging in moments. Even within the same facility, all physicians and nurses are looking at one common, complete set of medical images.

Patients can accumulate quite a lot of these images over a lifetime of medical care. New PACS systems can automatically archive older images that are no longer relevant and organize new ones. Shared, updated information leads to faster diagnoses and more effective treatments.

Bar Codes and RFID

Bar codes and RFID chips are a way to instantly provide information. While they’ve been around for a while, mobile apps and better optical and radio frequency scanners are making them incredibly convenient. Bar codes or chips can be affixed to equipment, bottles of medication, patient beds, entry and exit points, and even patient and employee badges.
Strategically placed scanners can record and track movements so that nothing is misplaced and workflows can be analyzed for better efficiency. Monitoring also helps to provide better physical security for staff and patients. In emergencies, wandering patients or needed staff members or equipment can be almost instantly located.

Health Information Technology

Modern HIT systems are becoming praised as the solution to streamlining hospital practices. Efficient digital record keeping and reporting is helping to eliminate medical errors that were once a source of concern for patients, administrators, and insurers. Mistakes sometimes led to a patient being forced to undergo needless surgeries or treatment, or given the wrong medication.
Unique patient IDs associated with electronic records have helped to overcome this problem. Sinus and allergy tests and treatments, like those that Premier Surgical Associates does, improve the quality of life for patients of all ages, and now become permanent records for future reference. Every detail in any treatment is electronically documented to keep records updated and provide opportunities for analysis and improvement.

Biometric Patient Identifiers

There are a few areas of the human body that are unique to individuals: fingerprints and iris patterns for example. Because those areas are completely unique, they can actually be used to identify a person. This is important in the case of death, hospital emergencies, and in the case of a missing person situation. Although technology has been being used to track fingerprints for a while now, iris cameras are becoming more available and are being used as biometric patient identifiers.

Due to the fact that such devices require that a patient willingly interacts with the technology, acceptance is a key part of any biometric patient identification deployment. It is critical that healthcare organizations that deploy biometrics for patient identification offer a clear and transparent explanation to patients that the technology is in place to protect their identities and help prevent medical errors.

Though technology continues to evolve, once proven and put in place it provides advantages and consistent results. Today’s medical technology is developing into a reliable system for improving care and patient safety.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

smart devices are improving our health

The Medical Industry’s Smart Solutions

smart devices are improving our health

Advances in medical technology are extending life expectancies and improving our health and well-being. (Photo courtesy of pexels.com)

The following guest post on smart solutions in healthcare was submitted by Ronald McCarthy.

The medical industry is now progressing more rapidly than ever. Innovations are being made yearly and people’s lives are changing so much that the expected lifespan of a person born in this decade can be over a hundred years old. The life expectancy has increased because medical technology has allowed humans to detect diseases that would previously go undetected until the ailment was in its last stages and had affected the sufferer’s health very harshly. This would conclude to doctors being unable to treat the patient back to health and many cases would result in fatalities.

The medical field has progressed so much that applications have been introduced to keep track of our health and lifestyle. This not only helps the patient have a better life with a stricter schedule, but it can provide the doctor with the information he/she needs to diagnose any disease and give a clear insight into the patient’s problems. Multiple gadgets and machines are now under development that will let users connect them to the internet. This internet connection does not mean that you will be watching YouTube and surfing through Facebook or Twitter, but instead, they will let machines stay connected with each other. The internet connection will guarantee that the machines stay updated to their surroundings and carry out their assigned tasks efficiently. Here are the following things that have now been introduced to assist the doctors in their prognosis.

Smart Watches:

Wearable technologies have stepped into the health sector and are helping people keep a record of their sugar levels, blood pressure, and their dietary needs. One fine example of this is a smartwatch, MOTIO HW. It has been specifically designed to detect any signs that show whether the person is having difficulty in breathing or not breathing at all. This is especially useful for people with apnea. It uses its sensors to monitor the wearer’s movements and daily behavior.

Smart Patch:

Technology doesn’t get smaller than a patch on your underarm. TempTraq is a specially designed pad like a patch that can be stuck on your underarm and be used to monitor your temperature. Upon placement, it reads your body heat and sends the information to your smartphone. It is specifically very handy as you can place it on your baby and check her fever without you having to get up from bed.

Smart Scalpel:

These devices are designed in a way which lets them target a specific tissue that indicates any form of cancer. It can also detect and remove a defected vascular or nerve tissue. This piece of equipment is specifically used for processes which require extreme precision and are related to microsurgeries. Other procedures that could use this technology are anastomosis of blood vessels or nerves, cerebral aneurysms, acoustic neuroma removal and brain tumor resection.

Heart Rate Monitor:

For people with heart problems, it is rather a painstakingly long task to go to the doctor to check if their heart is healthy and has a normal BPM. Yet QardioCore is a belt-like structure that you wear around your chest and its sensors close just over your heart. The sensors then update your heart rate to your smartphone, hence letting you keep track of your health.

Electromagnetic Acoustic Imaging:

Combining bioelectromagnetism along with acoustics for a biopsy result similar to a CT scan may seem like a crazy idea, but science has proved that its a great step towards medical success. It is a much safer method and is able to provide images that are parallel to MRI in quality. The cost of having a CT scan is also high but this particular method can help you get the job done for a much cheaper price.

Science has proven time and again that it has the capacity to help us live a better and a longer life. The methods that were considered expensive can now be done in a cheaper way with more precision, while your everyday routine can be tracked down, therefore motivating you to follow a healthier diet and workout regime. There is no denying that this is perhaps only the beginning of the smart devices age and there are a lot more things to come in the future.

Ronald Mccarthy is a lifestyle and Health enthusiast. He uses his interests to share valuable insights through passionate writing in the domain. His aim is to spread knowledge about his interests to a larger audience and share interesting topics for the interest of the valued and general reader. For recent updates Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

Mary Mirabelli Thrive presentation at 2017 Northern CA HFMA Conference

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

I was staying in Silicon Valley for a few weeks when I realized my visit overlapped with the HFMA Northern California Chapter’s spring conference. I decided to join Mike and meet some interesting individuals, fluent in the language of healthcare, of course. Words cannot express how valuable that decision proved to be.

The weekend began effortlessly enough, as the drive from San Francisco was a mere hour and a half. I walked into the conference just in time to be greeted by a group of friendly and charming people, one of whom was a grinning and caffeinated Mike.

Our booth was decorated by stunning, new pop-up banners his team had designed to perfection.  So far, the stage was set for an unforgettable and impactful conference. I quickly learned how unforgettable it would truly be.

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

Mary Mirabelli, Vice President at Global Healthcare Services at HP as well as HFMA National Chairperson, took the stage at the show’s onset. As she began speaking, my mind raced with the sole thought of talking to her after her presentation about a potential partnership with HP (of course J). After giving an introduction and describing some of her accomplishments, Mary suddenly shifted to the topic of the show for this year – Thrive. What I imagined was a topic limited to “thriving” within the realm of healthcare suddenly took a turn to encompass a far more expansive and meaningful definition.

Mary shared her story with us – not the edited version, but the real one including life’s challenges and difficult moments. Taking the crowd through a short journey of her own life, she shared the impact of losing her parents at age 14 as well as being a double cancer survivor. Life had taken the craziest jabs at her, but her spirit never shattered. She always stood up and kept moving forward. I was surreally touched by this woman’s story, so much so that I requested to take a photograph with her to show my daughter.

 Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

The day proceeded as well as it had began, with great insights from Dignity’s Head of Innovation, to a superb lunch with a side of fantastic conversation with Gary Krboyan from St. Mary’s Home Health Services. Gary is a numbers man, and provided a wise perspective on who RightPatent should target in the home health market. To add to all the fascinating conversation, Mike got to talking with Dignity and Sutter about our mobile app. Suffice it to say, the conference was an amazing experience.

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

Unfortunately, I had to head out of the conference early to meet a self-proclaimed “connected guy” for dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf.  As I was driving back to San Francisco through the rolling green hills to the left and never ending orchards to the right, I kept thinking about Mary and how she thrived regardless of the obstacles that stood in her way. As an entrepreneur, I experience my moments of extremes, as Vinod Koshla of Koshla Venture always mentions: “For entrepreneurs, highs are high and lows are low. It’s a lone journey.” Mary’s experience and tenacity inspires me today, and I hope it does the same for you – to always get back up and thrive.