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Piece of medical record over other documents

The curious case of a mistaken patient identity

Mistaken patient identities in the healthcare industry are nothing new- a lot of people have faced it, and it occurs almost every day in the US. However, this time, it was not news of someone who suffered from it, but rather a couple who got saved from just being another mistaken patient identity. This mishap was properly detected and the victims were fortunately saved from a huge financial loss.

Piece of medical record over other documents

The actual story

A Florida-based couple would have been the victims of mistaken patient identity and almost lost a lot of money. Mrs. Barding detected the error when she identified that Cigna, her insurance company, was processing a whopping $2.2 million in medical bills.

How did she figure it out? With the help of Mr. Barding, the couple identified that the bills were actually associated with his identical twin, Vance Barding, who was burned in a work accident and sadly passed away six weeks later from complications.

Mrs. Barding told that Cigna billed them for her brother-in-law’s care and had deducted $3000 from her health reimbursement account. However, after notifying the insurance company, they verified the claim and stopped billing the couple, as well as returning the money to Mrs. Barding’s account. This was all due to the mistaken patient identity. 

Cigna also stated that there are always a large number of claims which are made in error by different healthcare providers, and they have thus discussed with the latter in order to be more vigilant about such erroneous bills.

The healthcare provider in question is Orlando Health and it was provided incorrect information, due to which this whole situation arose. However, as it was made aware, they worked with necessary parties in order to rectify the mistake. This was a fortunate case where the would-be victims were saved due to the vigilance of the wife. Unfortunately, not every victim has a Mrs. Barding beside them.

Some statistics regarding mistaken patient identity errors 

A survey conducted by Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare (PSQH) revealed that 54% of the respondents are unhappy with the current patient identification methods. Another research shows that 10% of the overall patients are misidentified during entry. This mostly happens due to the large healthcare systems, which have a lot of patients to cover, and thus they make mistakes due to human errors, miscommunication, and sometimes in order to save time. The PSQH survey also shows that 89% of the respondents believe that proper patient identification is a vital part and is of paramount importance to their organizations. On the other hand, only 4% believe that the current patient identification process is completely accurate.

How to avoid patient identification errors? 

Patient identification using biometrics is the only way to eliminate this problem. It not only is error-free, but it is also instantaneous, speeding up the process for patient care, as well as safe.

RightPatient AI is used by a number of notable hospitals as well as thousands of outpatient sites, transforming the experience of the patients as well as the healthcare professionals. It not only eliminates the errors, but it also saves time in order to focus on patient care. It is also fully compatible with any EHR system as well as third-party apps, thus creating a seamless experience for the end user. It uses iris scanning to identify the patients and then pull the relevant data from their EHR. Take Terrebonne General Medical Center (TGMC) as an example. It is located in an area where a lot of people share common names, either first or last. Thus, it posed risks of incorrect record documentation, patient record mix-ups, and providing wrong prescriptions. RightPatient has helped TGMC in eliminating this issue entirely using Photo Biometrics along with iris scanning. It has an advantage over most other biometric modalities- iris scanning does not require any physical contact on the patient’s end, thus, no risks of infections or diseases via contact. Duplication and errors are all things of the past with RightPatient. 17 years of experience in AI and human recognition is proof of it.

protecting patient data in healthcare

How Doctors Can Transmit Patient Data Securely

protecting patient data in healthcare

Doctors must take precautions when sharing patient data. Learn more about how doctors should protect your PHI in this guest post from Heather Lomax. (Photo courtesy of MaxPixel)

The following guest post on protecting patient data was submitted by Heather Lomax.

Communication efforts in the last few years have greatly advanced between doctor and patient. Instead of having patients drive out for a visit or make drawn-out phone calls every time something needs to be discussed, some doctors’ offices have started to use online portals and email correspondence with patients. These options are extremely efficient, but they also place patients at a higher risk of medical identity theft. Therefore, special measurements need to be taken in safely transmitting patient data.

PHI Data and Email Encryption

First and foremost, patients need to make sure their devices are encrypted when they access medical data. Not operating on such a system places data at risk for theft with ease. Therefore, portals offering medical data need to be encrypted as well. Patients should be made aware that if their computers at home are not secure, then they place their data at risk there as well. Sending patients emails also requires another degree of encryption.

Different Types of Email

Several types of emails exist when it comes to safely transmitting data information with patients. For web-based email applications, doctors’ offices and patients alike need to use accounts with HTTPS encryption. This method is the only means by which web-based email is secure. The email is sent to a patient should also be encrypted using either PGP encryption methods or Symantec Digital IDs. In both of these aspects, each email comes with its encryption.

Use Cloud Services for Fax and Email

HIPAA regulations make specific claims about how data should be transmitted between office and patient. One of the methods to use for this communication relies on cloud services for both faxes and emails. These cloud services have their own firewalls and encryption procedures, and they make certain that data only goes to a specific location. More often than not, a specific receiver has to acknowledge that they accept a fax. A VPN access code can be used for this process.

Biometric Identification

As passwords become obsolete and even unsafe for healthcare data security, biometric identification is steadily rising in practice when it comes to accessing sensitive information. With passwords comes the potential of breaches in security, even with the most carefully crafted codes. However, with the use of fingerprint analysis, retina scans, and facial recognition software, it’s nearly impossible for identity fraud to take place since these characteristics cannot simply be imitated. And not only does it reduce the risk of billing fraud – it also prevents deadly medication errors, improves response rates to medical emergencies, and expedites health information exchange services (which will be discussed in the next section).

Use Three Different Forms of Health Info Exchange

When in doubt, doctors’ offices should use three, distinct methods of Health Information Exchange (HIE) with patients and other medical offices. The first type is directed change, where data can be sent and received securely through an electronic medium between providers and coordinated support care. The second option is a query-based exchange, which offers providers the opportunity to find and request information from patients and other providers when unplanned care takes place. Finally, doctors’ offices can use consumer mediated exchanges, a method which allows patients to have control over data and how it is used among different providers.

Conclusion

A great deal of options is available when it comes to transmitting electronic patient data. Rather than rely on flimsy means of protection, alternative options with tighter security like encrypted care, biometric identification, and HIE paths should be implemented instead. If your practice or hospital can introduce even one of these methods as part of their data transfer strategies, you’ll notice a great improvement in workplace efficiency as well as security for your patients.

Author bio:

Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Blaze Systems. She writes articles for a variety of medtech blogs, discussing solutions for optimizing healthcare data protection and clinical technology.

big data

How Big Data is Changing Medicine

big data

Big Data is more than just a buzzword in healthcare – it is fundamentally changing care delivery as we know it. (Photo courtesy of pexels.com)

The following guest post on big data in healthcare was submitted by Chris Saviano.

Big Data is one of those buzz terms you’ll see all over the internet. Something about it sounds slightly sinister, like Big Tobacco. But Big Data is more innocuous: it’s just a term used to define large amounts of data. It can encompass any sort of data coming in, from marketing and demographics data to stock ticker data. In the terms of healthcare, that will mean electronic medical records data, aggregated research and payer information, to name a few sources. And this Big Data is changing medicine in a big way.

Improved technology

Monitors themselves are changing, thanks to Big Data. CNBC reported on a tiny heart monitor patch that can generate 30,000 pages of data on a patient’s heartbeat, and then distill it into a 15-page full report for physicians. The device is made up of a chip and two electrodes.

All of these data points are compiled into a huge database, which grows with each new patient the device monitors. The machine-learned capability gets smarter with each new addition. Then with each new set of data, that helps doctors diagnose faster.

Patient care streamlining

One of the more noteworthy ways Big Data is changing medicine is through better patient care, the heart of any good medical facility. Large amounts of data collected from patients can help doctors educate patients during treatment decisions. Having a wider set of data available helps doctors tailor solutions to each patient.

One of the biggest advantages of Big Data is that it offers a predictive model for patient outcomes. This can result in earlier diagnosis and reduced mortality from conditions like sepsis or congestive heart failure.

According to MapR: “A machine learning example from Georgia Tech demonstrated that machine learning algorithms could look at many more factors in patients’ charts than doctors, and by adding additional features, there was a substantial increase in the ability of the model to distinguish people who have CHF [congestive heart failure] from people who don’t.”

Increased security

MapR also reported on the security features of Big Data in healthcare. Predictive analytics help payers identify inaccurate claims and fraud. Big Data helps with this in that companies can go back into large messes of datasets for past claims and use machine-learning algorithms to detect patterns in fraud.

Key red flags in data include reusing services in short time periods, duplicate charges for healthcare across different hospitals at the same time and prescriptions filled at the same time in different locations. Through this system, companies can assign risk scores based on past behavior and find items of note in large seas of data that would have been impossible to find before.

Faster, more efficient breakthroughs

Big Data is changing medicine behind the front lines of patient care, as well. Researchers looking at gene variants made a search function for the huge sums of data they’ve pulled during gene research. The functionality is called MARRVEL (Model organism Aggregated Resources for Rare Variant Exploration) , but you can think of it as Google for the human genome. Researchers anywhere can also search the database in minutes.

Author Bio:

Chris Saviano is responsible for Business Development and Sales at PGM Billing and leads PGM’s product integration between proprietary cloud-based practice management software and integrated back office service operations.

patient privacy patient data

Top Patient Privacy Concerns With Healthcare Data Integration

patient privacy patient data

Learn more about the privacy implications when patients share health data online in this guest post from Avery Phillips. (Photo courtesy of Flickr.)

The following guest post on patient privacy was submitted by Avery Phillips.

In many industries, the proliferation of mobile, cloud, and data collection technology is far outpacing the ability of regulatory bodies to keep up. This is especially true in healthcare, partly due to the sensitive nature of patient records and partly due to widespread adoption of mobile health tracking by both practitioners and the general public.

Consumer-generated data is one significant challenge in legislation and education related to privacy, as it isn’t yet protected. Additionally, the long-term impact of tracking and sharing one’s health data through social networks isn’t fully understood.

Data breaches in the healthcare field have already proven that people’s medical histories, social security numbers, and addresses are vulnerable. Cloud technology paired with monitoring devices is giving healthcare providers access to real-time data, and a lot of it. This improves the quality of care, but comes with severe breach risks. While legal understanding catches up to the reality of big data, healthcare providers need to go above and beyond legal requirements to protect patient privacy.

Consumer-Generated Data

The risks of consumer-generated data haven’t been fully explored, but what we do know is that sharing health data online is “a digital tattoo.” That data follows users, is unregulated, can be sold to third parties, and used by hackers or identity thieves.

Platforms like Fitbit and Facebook are just the tip of the iceberg for providers. Wearable technology is allowing patients to receive real-time information and communication from professionals and gives providers access to a constant flow of actionable health information. That relationship evolves with each new innovation, but responsibilities concerning its collection and use haven’t been explored.

Breach Risks

In September of 2013, Advocate Medical Group suffered one of the largest data breaches in history. Four million records, including names, addresses, and social security numbers were taken by hackers.

As new services are introduced, and hackers develop new ways to subvert security, it can be difficult to keep employees up-to-date. An improperly trained employee might fall for a phishing email, accidentally use an unsecured app or cloud service with their personal mobile device, or share login information that enables access to private records. In 2016, 60 percent of all patient information breaches were due to hacking, but not all hacks are the direct cyber attacks we tend to think of. An employee opening the wrong email and clicking the link is a far easier way for a hacker to gain access than, for example, a brute force password crack.

Refusal to Share

Many patients may not realize it, but one threat to their security can occur if a healthcare provider refuses to share their information. Information blocking can come in many forms, such as prohibitive pricing, contracts that block users from accessing their information, and business practices intended to exclude competitors and prevent referrals.

These alleged practices put additional financial burdens on patients and compromise their privacy by restricting access to their own records. Many of America’s biggest vendors and healthcare providers have signed onto a pledge to combat this practice, but it has yet to be put into law.

The advent of rapidly evolving mobile technology is presenting new possibilities in data collection and improving the quality of patient care. On the other hand, the sparks of innovation are vulnerable to attack and mismanagement by unscrupulous business practices. It’s important for healthcare providers to invest in data security and breach recovery contingencies, as well as develop best practices to prevent misuse.

Author bio:

Avery Phillips is a freelance human who loves all things nature (especially humans!). Comment down below or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or comments.

patient safety in assisted living facilities

Best Practices for Keeping Patients Safe in Assisted Living Facilities

patient safety in healthcare

Learn more about best practices to ensure the highest levels of patient safety in assisted living facilities. (Photo courtesy of pexels.com)

The following guest post on patient safety in assisted living facilities was submitted by Paul Birung.

Assisted living facilities are modern health solutions that enable patients to live in the much-needed comfort of their home. These are centers that cater for varying services depending on who they are caring for. It is therefore important to note that in the same facilities considered a safe haven, every patient has his or her own character. There are those that remain calm during their stay, but there are others that are known to wander depending on the issue at hand. Especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s diseases including other forms of dementia.

It is for this reason that assisted living in Hilton Head including other areas should consider the following best practices for keeping patients safe and at ease in the health facility.

Identify and control wandering triggers

This is mostly important for patients with dementia and other types of illness that may increase the risk of wandering. Caregivers should meet and share with the family members so as to gain more insight into what issue is actually causing the patient to wander. Dementia patients have varying beliefs; one may believe that he/she is going to work, and another believe that he is looking for a lost family or friend – each day comes with its own assumption. Understanding these beliefs will give the nurse the best approach to take this information and use it to gain a more personal focus that will help manage the patient.

Embrace and connect with the patient

The feeling of having people that care around you by itself is therapy at some level. The patient should experience the sense of togetherness – one family. Assisted living facility should always train their staff to embrace the patients, to make them feel safe, and have a sense of belonging. To display the Zen atmosphere, make sure the room temperature is habitable, do not play loud music, and always avoid bright lighting.

Proper Supervision of at-risk patients

A detailed evaluation test should be done on all the patients to identify the different levels of at-risk patients. If a patient is deemed extreme, he/she should never be left unwatched especially when waiting for test or treatment. Constant supervision of these patients is strictly advised in assisted living facilities.

Explore the beauty of the exteriorpatient safety in assisted living facilities

Assuming that the assisted living facility has colorful and clean exterior, as long as there is supervision the outside is considered the excellent habitat during the day. Fresh air, green grass, artistic pathways, beautiful flowers and the natural lighting provides the ideal relaxation atmosphere that would calm a racing heartbeat. Recent studies have proven that daily exercise,

 

 as well as the freedom of moving around, have a tendency of reducing the constant movement of dementia patients.

Design protocols in case the worst happens

Effective protocols should be put in place to take care of the nomadic patients who fail to stay at a single place. This should include working with the police and the local residents when a patient is missing or has sneaked out of the facility. The facility should have a recent image of the patients as well as a few possessions kept in a plastic bag. These possessions can be used by the canine unit to pick up the scent for easy tracking of the patient.

Digital solution to the problem at hand

There are also digital solutions such as specialized pressure pads and sensors that can be installed on patient’s chairs and beds that would alert the caregiver once the patient gets up. Radio transmitters are also available to determine where the patient actually is. It is imperative that these practices are implemented to ensure the patients are safe and always at ease within an assisted living facility.

Author bio:

Sean Riggs is an enterprise correspondent and SEO expert. You can connect with him here: LinkedIn

data centers in healthcare

Technology In The Medical Field: How Data Centers Have Transformed The Industry

data centers in healthcare

The advent of data centers has helped the healthcare industry connect with the rapid rise in digitization. Photo courtesy of pexels.com)

The following guest post was submitted by Kara Masterson.

While hospitals and health care centers once used paper records only, today’s clinics and hospitals use almost entirely electronic health records, including digital scans, online drug records and web-based diagnostics. All of these technologies are hidden in the data center, which is typically a large building on or away from the campus. These data centers have certainly changed the face of health care.

They Allow for Seamless Patient Records

Data centers make it much easier for clinics and hospitals center to share patient records. For example, someone who has completed a medical technologist online program and who is studying blood samples in one part of the country can upload test results to a doctor across the country, and the doctor can then store the results in the data center.

They Speed Up Health Care

Because patient data is kept in one centralized area, health care can be sped up from the moment one steps in the emergency room until he or she is discharged. Doctors no longer have to wait to treat a patient until they receive and look through a lengthy patient chart. In addition, doctors who are at home can view how their patients are doing via records and results on data centers.

They Improve Patient Outcomes

According to healthit.gov, electronic health records significantly improve patient outcomes in numerous ways. They keep new doctors from prescribing medications that would interact with other prescriptions. They keep a close eye on patient allergies, and they automatically bring up warnings for doctors to see on certain patient diagnoses. This is particularly important in the emergency room setting.

They Help with Mobile Health

According to Exscribe doctors are increasingly taking advantage of data centers and electronic health records to communicate with and even treat their patients using mobile technology. They can communicate via health records and check test results online. This is particularly important for doctors practicing in remote and rural settings.

Data centers have taken all of the information that doctors, nurses and other health care workers used to have to dig for and have put it at their fingertips. With a few keystrokes and clicks, clinicians can know a patient’s health history, find out if there are any potential drug interactions, regulate a pacemaker and diagnose a patient who is miles away from them. Certainly in the next decade or two, even more tremendous changes will come to the health industry thanks to impressive data centers.

About the author: Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.

patient identification identifying the right patient

The True Meaning of Patient Identification Innovation

patient identification identifying the right patient

Patient identification “innovation” is defined by the ability to address both present and future complexities and nuances of patient behaviors.

The following post on patient identification innovation was submitted by Michael Trader, Co-Founder of RightPatient®

I get it. Change is hard. It’s human nature to resist change, yet as we are often reminded, true progress in life comes when we step “outside the box” and “outside of our comfort zone” to change our perspective and foster growth (thank you mom and dad for that advice) Despite our inherent inability to accept it, change is inevitable and a fact of life. Anywhere you look around, change exists in one form or another and there is little doubt that change can be challenging.

In the healthcare industry, patient identification as we know it is going through radical changes. While this may have been breaking news a few years ago, most in the industry are now well aware that traditional patient identification methods are no longer effective and have the potential to place a patient in harm’s way via medical errors, duplicate records, and medical identity theft. As more healthcare organizations recognize and understand the importance of abandoning antiquated patient ID procedures in favor of more modern, secure technology to improve patient safety I think it’s important to put into context what it actually means to be “innovative” in patient identification. In other words, I often see the word “innovative” used to describe technology solutions built to only address one facet of patient ID instead of being designed to not only address the complexities of today’s environment, but also equipped to cover the challenges of patient identification in the future. 

I recently wrote a post for Health Data Management where I discuss how the behavior of current and future generations plays an important role in designing patient ID technology that has the capability to ID a patient no matter where they enter and exit along the care continuum. This is an important innovation “ingredient” that must be built into any modern patient identification solution and any technology that limits where and when healthcare organizations can accurately identify a patient is simply not innovative. 

How does RightPatient define patient identification innovation? I’m glad you asked.

When we began our patient identification technology solution journey a few years ago we understood a key fact that is often overlooked and frequently not factored into the discussion and analysis of platforms designed to address the complexities of today’s patient ID environment. That simple fact is that the digitization of the industry has broke down traditional barriers of where and when a patient can either receive care along the continuum or access protected health information (PHI). Patients seeking care or data access no longer see brick and mortar healthcare facilities as the first and only place where they can consume healthcare.

The dawn of patient portals, telemedicine, connected health apps, and other virtual environments has fundamentally altered healthcare consumption by shifting care from traditional environments to virtual ones. For many patients, the first thought when they seek care or data access is to grab their phone, or login to their PC or tablet instead of hopping in their car and driving to the doctor’s office or local emergency department (ED).  To us, innovation is bringing to market a patient identification solution that has the capability to truly address patient identification at ANY point along the care continuum, brick and mortar OR virtual environments.

RightPatient’s innovative spirit doesn’t stop there. We also define patient identification “innovation” by these additional solution attributes and milestones in our company’s history:

  • The RightPatient team was recently honored to be named a finalist in the CHIME National Patient ID Challenge. This is a true testament to the viability of our biometric patient identification solution and it should be noted that RightPatient was the only entry submitted from an individual/vendor who currently has customers actively using the technology in the healthcare market. 
  • We officially launched the RightPatient Smart App during this year’s HIMSS show, which turns any smartphone or tablet into a powerful recognition device. The RightPatient Smart App uses augmented reality and deep learning to identify patients, can quickly and easily identify unconscious patients, allows clinicians to verify a patient’s identity bedside prior to medical procedures, and has the potential to drastically improve patient safety and reduce the risk of adverse events.
  • We built the RightPatient platform to enable healthcare organizations to capture a high resolution image of the patient during the enrollment and identification process. This photo is immediately linked to the patient’s unique medical record and subsequently stored in our cloud environment, following them wherever they go within the care continuum. The photo allows healthcare organizations to verify a patient’s identity in virtual environments (e.g. telemedicine, patient portals) outside of brick and mortar settings. After all, the value of any patient identification technology rests in its ability to accurately ID a patient, no matter where they are. Patient photos also help to humanize health IT by putting a face to a name. Many of our existing customers have commented that the patient’s photo helps them to personalize their approach and make patients feel safer and more comfortable. 
  • The RightPatient patient identification solution uses photo biometrics to identify patients, a non-contact, hygienic form of biometrics that supports hospital infection control policies. Considering the increased attention on managing infection control in healthcare by keeping hands clean, we understood that patient ID innovation meant offering a solution to providers where a patient does not have to make physical contact with a biometric hardware device to avoid the spread of germs and illness.

We continue to innovate and evolve parallel to the rising challenges of establishing accurate patient ID in healthcare. For us, understanding the true meaning of patient ID innovation means designing and building a solution that not only address today’s obstacles and complexities, but has the flexibility to adapt to the challenges of tomorrow.

For a free, no obligation demo of the RightPatient patient identification solution, please contact us.

using patient photos to increase patient safety in healthcareMichael Trader is President and Co-Founder of RightPatient®. Michael is responsible for overseeing business development and marketing activities, government outreach, and for providing senior leadership on business and policy issues.

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.