Posts

how to maintain patient safety in healthcare

Patient Safety in Healthcare

how to maintain patient safety in healthcare

Maintaining patient safety in healthcare is important. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

The following post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Dennis Kaminski.

Every healthcare organization carries along with it the important obligation to ensure patient safety and the safety of staff and visitors. Life itself presents possible danger at every turn, as most of us know well, and becoming involved in any sort of treatment program or enrollment in any healthcare institution, therefore, involves incurring certain inherent dangers as well.

It has been widely bruited in the past that healthcare environments can be even more dangerous than life in the streets. This is because hospitals are, by their very nature, filled with sick patients. These patients may have diseases or injuries that could present a danger to others, particularly susceptible due to the nature of their own physical condition. Hospital-borne infections can and do cause deaths every year.

It is, therefore, vital that every organization allows plenty of time, and invests a good deal of efforts. This will assure that its particular operation takes into consideration every possible provision as a way of assuring the safety of its patients.

A major concern for an institution too, is the looming danger of lawsuits, lawsuits that, if serious enough, can force even a well-insured company into bankruptcy and closure. Of even graver importance, however, is the dark possibility of a person becoming gravely ill or injured during the company’s watch, a tragic event that has, in the past, led to death.

Health care groups and policies across our nation, fall mostly under the influence of social as well as economic conditions and, of course, the health guidelines and policies already in place regarding patient safety. Every nation, every jurisdiction, has its own set of policies regarding healthcare safety. These have been, over time, developed to meet the needs and goals of a target population.

Healthcare Safety and patient safety are something of blanket terms for a number of different populations and situations. This term includes care by health professionals, of course. Health care professionals alone carries a good many sub-categories that might be included: chiropractic, medical physicians, physician associates (nurses, attendants, technicians, and even janitorial workers). Dentistry, midwifery, optometry primary, secondary and tertiary care, medicine, midwifery and any other aid or treatment offered to a person who is suffering from one malady or another. All of these fall under the heading of patient care and/or healthcare safety.

The vast majority of patients being treated in healthcare facilities, receive proper and safe treatment. Yet as technology and the understanding of the human physique and mental capacities grows, the greater becomes the necessity to attune these complexities to the assurance of the safety of those who seek help. People make mistakes, errors in judgment and, being human, everyone in the healthcare industry walks about beneath the burden of knowing that at any step along the way, a mistake may be made. This can of course, be minor, but it can just as easily be a significant and far-reaching mistake that could, ultimately, be life-threatening.

Organizations, such as the National Patient Safety Agency has been set in place for one reason alone: To educate healthcare professionals in every possible way to incorporate every possible safety measure into the workplace, be the facility a small dental office or a large and active primary care facility that goes twenty-four hours a day.

One of the first and most important steps recommended is that the director of every operation create and organize a culture of safety around the center of activity.

The first and vital step the director should consider is to take the initiative, take the lead. The director should assemble the staff, explain exactly what measures must be followed and perhaps hand out papers. Directing staff is a first and important step in creating in the minds of employees and associates the importance and gravity of healthcare measures, as well as management’s determination to enforce proper health care measures in every aspect of the operation.

That would include not only sanitary procedures, but even frequently overlooked dangers, such as cables or débris lying on floors, obstacles that might easily trip up a hurrying attendant or patient. Wet floors or any slippery substance on floors present an extremely dangerous threat to a person who can take an unexpected life-threatening fall.

By combining attentive and concerned management with other factors, staff remains constantly aware of the safety measures that are necessary to maintaining a good clean operation without unexpected and unwelcome incidents.

Where there may be any possible doubt as to the effectiveness of a given facility, it is possible to bring in professional teams that analyze the facility, gather staff together and discuss aspects that may need improvement, share safety lessons so that management as well staff can implement better solutions to prevent future possible accidents or even tragedies.

It is also important not only to involve staff in these measures, but patients and the general public as well, should be kept informed as much as possible, of the progress, possibilities and threats that may lurk in even the most innocent-appearing environment.

Dennis Kaminski is the owner of SafetyMart. SafetyMart helps customers ranging from private businesses to government/municipal agencies, both large and small to address their safety needs and requirements.

weak hospital infection control policies endanger patient safety in healthcare

Infection Control – 5 Things Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About C. DIFF

weak hospital infection control policies endanger patient safety in healthcare

The danger of weak hospital infection control policies is a direct threat to patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

The following guest post on infection control and patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Evan Kaden.

Every year, patients are admitted to the hospital for various reasons. Some for surgery, others for acute or chronic illnesses, but all have the same expectation: to get well. Most are unaware of the risks that come with hospitalization and find themselves uneducated about them. C. Diff infection is no exception. While the doctors and nurses are required to inform you of an infection, that doesn’t mean that they have the time to explain the details of it. This article will explain what you and your family needs to know about C. Diff and how to prevent infection.

WHAT IS C. DIFF?

Clostridium Difficile, commonly known as C. Difficile or C. Diff, is the bacteria prominently known for causing infectious diarrhea. C. Difficile accounts for approximately less than 4% of the bacteria present in the intestinal tract. Everyone doesn’t have this bacterium in their system, but those who do typically have a healthy balance. In a healthy person, the bacteria do not pose a threat, but if there is an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in one’s body, that can spell big trouble. A C. Diff infection is known as a “Nosocomial Infection”. This type of infection is one that is acquired in a hospital setting, during a prolonged stay. There are various types of C. Diff but the most common strain is the North American Pulsed Field type 1, better NAP1, which can lead to serious illness.

HOW DO PATIENTS GET C. DIFF?

C.Diff is often found in patients who are in long term care and are receiving antibiotic treatment for long periods of time. It also occurs in patients who receive a high dose of antibiotics. While antibiotics are beneficial for treating various conditions, they also destroy the good bacteria. Without the proper balance, the C. Diff bacteria that was once tamed, now has the opportunity to go rampant. Elderly patients and those with compromised immunity are particularly at risk. Patients can also contract C. Diff through physical contact. The bacterium is passed through spores found in feces. These spores can live on surfaces for months. Health facilities risk an outbreak if soiled linens and contaminated surfaces are not properly sterilized. Healthcare workers contribute to this risk when good hand hygiene is not practiced. Other factors that increase risk are: Gastro Intestinal surgery, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Chemotherapy drugs, Renal disease, a weak immune system and a previous C. Diff infection.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

C. Diff symptoms include:

Watery Diarrhea (3-15 times per day)
Severe abdominal pain
Nausea
Appetite Loss
Fever
Bloody Stool
Weight loss

C. Diff creates toxins that cause the colon to become damaged and inflamed. Different strains cause various levels of illness. NAP1, as mentioned before is the most common strain of C. Difficile bacteria. C. Difficle is diagnosed when a patient develops diarrhea during hospitalization, while on current antibiotic treatment or within two months of a past treatment. The physician will request a stool sample to confirm the presence of C.Difficile and to determine if it is a serious infection. Most cases are mild but with the right course of action can be treated efficiently and effectively.

HOW IS IT TREATED?

The first course of action is to discontinue the current antibiotic treatment. This method usually allows for the healthy bacteria to be replenished and eradicate the C. Diff overgrowth within a few days. The physician may order treatment using Metronidazole or Vancomycin. These drugs stop the growth of C.Difficile. Another form of treatment is Probiotics, which has been proven to prevent recurring infections. If the infection leads to more serious issues, surgery may be required to remove damaged portions of the colon. This is level of treatment is rare.

Safety Precautions

Most hospitals have implemented hand hygiene education and policies for the medical staff as well as protective equipment such as gloves and gowns for those who deliver direct care to the infected patient. There are signs posted on the doors and walls of patients who have C. Diff, but it can be confusing for the common person to understand. This list of precautions can save you and your family from contracting or spreading the infection:

1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds frequently
(Most recommend singing the Alphabet or Happy Birthday song as a timer)
2. Ask the staff if the chairs and surfaces have been cleaned with Chlorine Bleach prior to entering the room.
3. Put on any protective gear that is placed at the entry of the patient’s room. This includes gowns and/or masks.
4. Avoid contact with the patient’s bedding. If the patient needs to be moved or cleaned, seek assistance from a nurse. Fecal matter isn’t always visible to the eye. If contact is made with the bed linens or surface, wash your hands right after.
5. Avoid using the patient’s restroom while visiting. C. Diff spores can live on surfaces for long periods of time. To avoid infection, use the visitor designated restrooms.

With rising concerns regarding C. Diff infections, it is easy to understand why patients may consider an alternative option. One of those options is CDPAP, Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. This is a Medicaid program that allows the patient to receive home care and participate in his or her care plan. This alternative provides patients who have experience past C. Diff infections with a way to be treated in the environment where they feel the safest. With the proper knowledge and practices, we can work with the healthcare community to lessen the occurrence of C. Diff infections and ensure safe experiences for all patients.

infection control is an important aspect of patient safety in healthcareEvan is a rare-breed of freelance writers who, believe it or not, doesn’t drink coffee! With a passion for sustainability and quality of life, he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s had to share his thoughts and stories with people through this crazy place called the internet.