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. Dentists can use touchless patient identification solutions like RightPatient to ensure that they are using the correct medical records – enhancing patient safety.  

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.

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

The Last 10 Years: How Technology Has Increased Patient Safety

The Last 10 Years: How Technology Has Increased Patient Safety

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

The Medical Industry’s Smart Solutions

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

home healthcare is beneficial for patients

Why Is Home Healthcare Better Than Nursing Homes?

Why Is Home Healthcare Better Than Nursing Homes?

There are many reasons to choose CDPAP over a traditional homecare program. (Photo courtesy of freedomcareny.com)

The following guest post on home healthcare was submitted by Jack Vincent.

As we get older, it can be very hard for us to take care of our home and ourselves with great results. In fact, our bodies just can’t handle the pressure of managing a home, which is why it can be a magnificent idea to ask for help. Usually, there are 2 options in this regard. You either have the option to enter a nursing home, or you can get home health care.

But is home health care better than a nursing home? Yes, because not only does the patient get to stay in his home, but he can also receive dedicated supervision. Plus, many other extraordinary benefits can be accessed this way as well.

1. The patient gets to stay at home

As we mentioned above, being able to stay at home is imperative for any person that needs dedicated home care. Usually, it can be very stressful to accommodate in a nursing home, whereas home healthcare is a lot easier to handle. Basically, any older person can handle the idea that someone else takes care of their needs within their home. Opting for a nursing home is just too much in many situations. That’s why a lot of older people that need dedicated care prefer home healthcare instead of nursing homes.

2. More affordable

The reality is that many nursing homes tend to be very expensive. Home healthcare is cheaper than that, which in the end does tend to bring in front quite a lot of interesting benefits! What you will like in this case is that you get to spend less without having to worry about any potentially significant expenses. That does pay off a lot if you want to spend less but still get the very best treatment for your senior.

3. Postpones or even prevents institutional living

Aside from being something new, institutional living is not for all seniors. Yes, plenty of them just can’t accommodate to the nursing home life. They want to stay alone or with someone at home, which is why home health care is the right option for them. The value is indeed there, all you have to do is to follow the desires of your senior and focus on his needs to get the best results.

4. It promotes healing

The home healthcare services are designed to help a senior heal and stay healthy. Not only are they focused on well being, but they also bring in support and the satisfaction that you are not alone. It certainly pays off a lot, which is what you want to have in the end.

5. It reduces re-hospitalizations

Why is that? Because home health care makes the most of one great resource, which is the friendly environment. A senior is going to feel better and recover a lot faster in a friendly location such as his/her home. It certainly shines, and in the end, this will work to your advantage. It does tend to pay off a lot especially if you require professional and fast home care.

6. It protects personal freedom

When a senior goes to dedicated institutions such as nursing home for the day to day care, they do have to remove some of their day to day freedom. It may not sound like much at first, but this does come with multiple benefits in the end. Having your sense of freedom and getting a say in everything that pertains to your life is something that every senior wants to have, that’s for sure.

7. Easier for the family

Aside from being perfect for the senior, home healthcare is fantastic for the family as well. It just makes things simpler, since the family and friends can visit a senior without a problem while he lives within his/her home. Things do get a lot more complicated when a senior goes to nursing homes, because that’s where you have to deal with visiting hours and other similar stuff. Yes, nursing homes can provide good care, but the family will have to be in the second place, and that may not be that good in the end.

8. It provides a safe place to deal with any health problems

In case a senior has health problems, the last thing he/she wants is to spread the disease. Thanks to home healthcare, a senior can contain any infections and health issues within their home. Other people will not be affected, and he/she can still receive the proper benefits and care without that much of a hassle. That’s what makes things worth it in this situation and the value is indeed there for sure.

9. Improved bladder control and bathing

It can be hard for a senior to deal with bladder and bathing issues within a nursing home. The home healthcare services are designed to bring in front a very rewarding and unique experience, which in the end works to his/her advantage. After all, nothing is more important than having someone that will handle these problems and which will provide personalized care at all times. It certainly pays off, and it brings in front a rather distinct and unique value.

10. Immediate access to medical care

Once you opt for home healthcare, a senior will be able to reach some very good results, and in the end, the overall value will be second to none. Not only will this provide a very rewarding value, but the experience will be worth it at all times. It certainly shows that the quality and value are there, you just have to access them!

As you can see, there are many reasons why home health care is better than nursing homes. If you want to receive the ultimate value for your family or if you are a senior that requires extensive care, home health care is certainly the way to go. It does pay off a lot, and you do receive the quality and value that you may need. Don’t hesitate and check it out; you will not regret it!

Author bio: Jack Vincent is a writer, blogger, and loves teaching and educating others. When he’s not substitute teaching at his local elementary school, he spends most of his free time helping his mother who is dealing with dementia.

5 Reasons Why Health Care Needs Better Cybersecurity

5 Reasons Why Health Care Needs Better Cybersecurity

5 Reasons Why Health Care Needs Better Cybersecurity

The rapid digitization of healthcare has pushed many providers to improve cybersecurity. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock).

The following is a guest post submitted to RightPatient on improving cybersecurity in healthcare.

When healthcare first started to go digital, the problems were largely related to mechanical reliability. Computers weren’t so reliable, and there was no internet to really bring them together. Keeping hard backups was really the biggest concern.

Yet that’s changed considerably in the past decade. Nearly all healthcare providers store at least some of their records online. As a result, there are fewer opportunities to completely lose a patient’s records and collusion among practitioners is becoming considerably easier. Conversely, the chance of having records stolen is dramatically increased.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there were over 300 data breaches in 2016 (with over 500 victims), and that’s just in the United States. The question so many are asking is why.

As it turns out, there are many reasons.

Healthcare is Going Paperless

Both for space and for purposes of preservation, healthcare practitioners are doing what they can to cut down on the rooms filled to the brim with patient files. Instead, that information is stored on servers, both onsite and offsite. There’s less room for losing physical files, patient information can be located and sent faster, and providers can more easily see a complete history.

This centralization is certain to improve patient outcomes but it comes with the risk of creating major “honey pots” for hackers and thieves. Rather than stealing file folders, these cybercriminals only need to breach a single database to acquire hundreds, if not thousands of patient records.

The only recourse is to improve cybersecurity measures to help reduce or avoid breaches entirely. Otherwise, patients (and we’re all patients, including providers) face the risk of identity theft or worse.

Fraudulent care is a major problem because per the law, all treatment must be recorded. Care rendered to the wrong person can prove very difficult to remove from records, which could prove problematic or even dangerous for the victim, although the FDA contends that thus far no one has been injured or died as a result of data breaches.

It’s the Law

5 Reasons Why Health Care Needs Better Cybersecurity

(Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Not everyone realizes that maintaining cybersecurity that meets current procedural standards is actually the law. HIPAA compliance doesn’t just extend to patient confidentiality in person, but also applies to information stored digitally.

Those in practice that do get hacked face stiff legal penalties, particularly if they are shown to be taking inadequate care in preserving their patient records safely. Although state requirements vary, there are a few basic requirements both for minimizing liability and for complying with the law:

• At least two hard copies of records need to be maintained, one of which is stored offline
• Digital records must have copies stored online
• Health care providers must perform risk assessments and provide security measures that are adequate* to minimize risks to patient information and privacy

*Note that what constitutes “adequate” seems to vary and the requirement is generally vague at best.

Breaches are Increasingly Common

Earlier we discussed that 2016 was a year that featured over 300 major cybersecurity breaches in the healthcare industry. What’s important about that value is that it represents an over 20 percent increase in the number of hacks as compared to the year before, which numbered in the mid-200s.

Far from becoming less frequent and more controlled, data theft is actually on the rise. And the cost of theft isn’t getting any cheaper either. Research done by the Ponemon Institute continues to show yearly increases in costs to providers as a result of cybersecurity woes.

At present, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the number of breaches or the cost per incident is likely to decrease through 2017 or beyond.

Most predict a continued increase in cost.

Private Practices Are Favorite Targets

The victims of data theft aren’t just major hospitals or data centers. In fact, private practices face just as many, if not more risks than do large institutions. Small practices tend to have a considerably lower budget for cybersecurity and thus are actually more vulnerable because it’s just that much easier for hackers to force their way in.

Government entities have been concerned for years that the problem isn’t limited just to large institutions. In 2012, the FBI director actually stated that “only two types of companies” exist: “those that have been hacked and those that will be.

Private practitioners and their patients would be wise to heed this warning and take steps to minimize the inevitable fallout that comes with data theft. Not taking the risk seriously could prove devastating particularly for offices with just a single doctor on staff.

BYOD Also Means BYOP

One last addition both to healthcare and standard businesses that presents a major risk to patient records is the so-called “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD for short) policy. This procedure has grown in popularity because many employees own devices that are far more capable than those being provided by offices.

But BYOD can quickly become a BYOP (bring your own problems) policy if not handled appropriately. Employees rarely maintain security on their personal devices in a way that sufficiently protects the businesses they work with.

Employers would be wise to implement security requirements for their workers in the form of locked devices and security software. That means both anti-malware apps—for preventing infected software from being installed—and internet security apps, with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) increasingly the most important due to the amount of hacks that involve direct invasion of unsafe connections.

Solving the Problems

Putting a stop to security breaches isn’t likely something that will happen overnight. But it is something we should all be cognizant of enough to begin minimizing risks. Nothing replaces vigilance and there may not ever be a catchall solution to cybercrime.

The cost of negligence may be more than we can imagine. And with insurance premiums up and healthcare costs continuing to rise, this is one bill we can’t afford to pay.

How will you help healthcare improve its cybersecurity? Do you have any concerns? Tell us in the comments.

About the Author: Faith is a cybersecurity expert and technology specialist. As a professional and patient, she is interested in helping businesses maintain more secure environments for the safety of themselves and those they serve. With medical hacks on the rise, Faith finds herself speaking out on the topic of patient records often.

revenue cycle management in healthcare

7 Tips to Improve Your Revenue Cycle Management in 2017

7 Tips to Improve Your Revenue Cycle Management in 2017

Follow these 7 practical tips to improve revenue cycle management at your healthcare facility. (Photo courtesy of pexels.com).

The following guest post on improving revenue cycle management in healthcare was submitted by Yeshwanth HV.

Amid ever-changing regulatory environment, Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) has become one of the most important concerns for healthcare leaders in the US. Effectively managing it ensures that there will be lesser accounts receivable, fewer complications and speedy recovery of patient payment, all of which will make a healthcare practice more efficient and responsive in terms of operational changes and growth. However, effective management of the revenue cycle has proven elusive to the providers in the current healthcare landscape. The good news is there are specific ways in which you can achieve this elusive feat. Here are seven tips that will help you to effectively manage your revenue cycle:

Set Benchmarks and Measure Them

Lord Kelvin, a famous British mathematician and engineer, once said: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” This is very true with regards to healthcare, especially if you are thinking on the lines of improving efficiency and productivity of your RCM practices.
Hence start by identifying a set of benchmarks that are most important for the success of the organization such as average time taken to submit a claim, average reimbursement rate and so on. If necessary opt to use comparative data from your competitors to keep you on the right path. Next measure the performance of your practice using the benchmarks that you have zeroed-in on and see to it that you slowly improve your performance over time.

Get the Money You Are Owed

While evaluating the performance of metrics as suggested above, make it a point that you also keep a close watch on the collection rate. Tracking this metrics helps you to make sure that you don’t leave significant amount of accounts in collections on the table, which can impact the financial stability of your practice.

An ideal RCM practice should be able to recover around 96% percent of accounts in collection. Take appropriate measures to bring your rate up to this mark or at least ensure that your collection rate is above 85 percent so that percentage of patients with outstanding bad debt will not get out of hand.

Audit Workflow

Conducting regular audit of your typical RCM workflow – from patient scheduling to final claim submission – is a great way to streamline your operations. It helps you to discover issues and inefficiencies that may be hampering your ability to process claims in an expedient manner.
But make sure that you include your frontline staff in this process by taking feedback from them about things that are holding them back. This may help you uncover crucial flaws that you may have overlooked or taken for granted.

Track Denied Claims

Tracking every claim that is denied will help you to identify trends in mistakes with regards to billing, coding and other RCM related processes. The insights gained through these discoveries can be used to train your resources and augment your RCM practices.

Look Ahead to Regulatory Changes

Rules governing healthcare are in a constant state of motion. For instance consider the last five years. First it was the Affordable Care Act (ACA), then ICD-10 implementation and now it is a possible repeal of ACA. In such an every-changing environment, it is always beneficial to make it a regular practice to stay aware of new statutes, guidelines and codes that might come your way, and be prepared with effective counters to avoid revenue cycle disruptions arising due to these changes.

Pay Attention to Self-Pay Balances

A rise in the popularity of low-premium but high-deductible plans is likely to correspond with a rise in self-pay balances. And this can pose a serious challenge to the financial stability of a practice, just like in the case of accounts in collection.
To mitigate the hurdles posed by this trend, you have to proactive and find out a way to work with individuals so that their accounts do not have to go into collection.

Make Sure Your Current RCM Practice Meets You Needs

Never take anything for granted and make it a standard practice to periodically question the value that your RCM system offers. Also make research ongoing into pricing, service offerings and the latest software systems so that when your RCM system is lagging, you are perfectly aware of things that need to be done.

The Bottom-line

Navigating through the chores of today’s healthcare landscape is not easy. To be successful in such an environment, healthcare practices should be prepared to undertake a transformational RCM approach that focuses on improving the function as well as the flow of each moving part.

Author Bio: Yeshwanth HV is a healthcare writer at MedBillingExperts, a leading provider of healthcare business process outsourcing services such as medical billing, medical coding and revenue cycle management services to medical practitioners and healthcare organizations worldwide. Dedicated towards the healthcare industry, he has authored several blogs and articles that have received rave reviews in the industry. Prior to MedBillingExperts, Yeshwanth worked with CIO Review and has authored several bylined pieces for the quarterly editions of the magazine.

patient safety

4 Ways To Encourage Patient Safety In Your Dental Office

4 Ways To Encourage Patient Safety In Your Dental Office

Patient safety in a dental office is often interconnected with the quality of care received. (Photo courtesy of 123RF).

The following guest post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Emma Sturgis.

Safety is an important element of any business that serves the general population, and dental offices are no exception. Providing a safe environment is one way that dentists can help their patients relax and have a good experience during dental appointments. Following are 4 ways that dentists can encourage patient safety in their dental clinics and offices.

Follow OSHA Standards For Bloodborne Pathogens

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has established standards to keep both staff and patients free from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. These standards include:

– employee training
– proper disposal of hazardous waste materials
– personal protection gear such as gloves, masks, gowns, and eye protection
– written plan on how to control hazardous waste, needles and other “sharps”, and what to do if anyone is exposed. This plan should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
– proper documentation of the infection controls in place

All the employees should be aware of what the standards are for handling biowaste products to prevent bloodborne pathogen contamination. Knowing and following the standards keeps not only the patients safe, but the staff as well.

Modern And Well-Maintained Equipment

Using modern up-to-date equipment is another way dental offices can encourage patient safety. Not only should the equipment be modern, but it must be maintained to keep it safe and identify any weaknesses that could lead to an accident.

Procedure and medical chairs are a perfect example. Each chair needs to be designed for the comfort and safety of not only the patient, but the dentist and other staff members as well. The chair needs to be able to be positioned so that the dentist has easy access to the patient without strain or getting tired during long procedures.

Avoid Cross-Contamination By Keeping A Clean Environment

It goes without saying that every inch of the dental office or clinic needs to be clean. It’s not enough that things look clean. Surfaces need to be wiped daily because if there is dust, there is bound to be bacteria as well. Chairs need to be carefully wiped between each patient. Things like drawer handles, x-ray switches, and anything that gets touched needs to be wiped with an antibacterial disinfectant wipe. In addition, the front desk and the waiting room need to be clean and clutter-free. This will help the patient to feel comfortable that the entire dental practice is a tight operation where nothing is overlooked.

Radiation Safety Practices

Exposure to radiation happens whenever x-rays are taken of a patient. Another way to encourage patient safety is to practice radiation safety for both the patient and the dental staff. Ensure that the x-ray machine is operating at peak efficiency with periodic inspections. Make sure the lead aprons are used as required and are in good shape with no cracks or tears. Any aprons that are showing their wear should be discarded and replaced. Proper storage of the lead aprons will help prolong their life and prevent radiation leaks. Ensure that any dental personnel using the x-ray machines are trained in the proper use of the machines for both patient protection and their own.

Patient safety and overall quality of care go hand in hand. If a patient sees that safety is a top priority in dental offices and clinics, their perception will be that the overall care provided is also a top priority. Dentistry has risks and hazards just like any other medical procedure. From the high speed drills, to the chemicals used in dental procedures, to the fact that dentistry takes place so close to the airway, the risks involved with dental work can be life-threatening. Keeping the focus on patient safety will help minimize the risks. Patient safety is an important part of every dental practice.

Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2

How Professionalism Helps You Put Your Patient's Care & Safety First

How Professionalism Helps You Put Your Patient’s Care & Safety First

How Professionalism Helps You Put Your Patient's Care & Safety First

Developing a professional approach to healthcare factors into establishing patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of flickr).

The following guest post on patient safety was submitted by Hannah Whittenly.

Medical professionals are expected to live up to certain standards. As expert care givers, their patients expect them to be objective, knowledgeable, sympathetic, and detail-oriented. It isn’t easy in some situations or over the course of a long shift, but maintaining professionalism is important to productive interactions with colleagues and patients. Here are some ways it affects the quality of the treatment patients are receiving.

Respect for Patients

Patients can experience a range of emotions. They can be disrespectful or abusive to their own caregivers, particularly nursing staff. It’s important to remember that the patient needs help. Nobody likes to be the target of someone else’s stress, but a patient may be going through a difficult time whereas a professional is doing a job objectively. Professionalism means self-restraint. Empathy and respect for patient dignity are essential to good care.

Team Work

Hospital staff are part of a team, which can include everyone, 24 hours a day. The team should be focused on providing the best patient care. That’s hard to do if there’s even one team member that’s consistently rude, tardy, or demanding. Any healthcare organization is committed to making money by ensuring that efficient treatments take place. That isn’t possible if the team doesn’t work well together. Professionals accept their responsibility to each other, and that’s the best environment for the patient—it also ensures that they are in a safer atmosphere.

Appearance

Everyone recognizes that visual information forms our initial judgement of new people, particularly when it comes to healthcare. Hospitals are associated with cleanliness and dedicated, highly trained staff. A clean and professional caregiver inspires immediate confidence in the patient. Looking slovenly and unkempt tells patients that this individual is unhygienic, lazy, or just doesn’t care. A patient that has no confidence in a caregiver makes it much harder for the team to do its job. Not only that, but the confidence that a patient has in you will make them calmer and more responsive to treatment

Career

Maintaining a professional attitude and sense of duty can mean a lot to patients and coworkers, but in a competitive field it won’t necessarily earn the opportunity to provide better care in a supervisory role. Advancements in education, such as getting your online bachelors in nursing, will help to further a medical career. It will require greater demands on personal time, but an online nursing degree is the best chance to fit course work into a busy schedule. Superior knowledge makes it possible to provide superior care.

Patient care and safety are always the primary concern. The ability to provide them consistently and professionally will add greater value to the organization and the community.

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

protecting pregnant patient safety in healthcare

5 Ways to Ensure Safety in Pregnant Patients

5 Ways to Ensure Safety in Pregnant Patients

What are 5 simple steps healthcare providers can take to protect the safety of pregnant patients?

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

Because so many changes occur in a woman’s body when she is pregnant, doctors, nurses and other health care workers must approach this patient with caution. If you are caring for a pregnant patient, you must be aware of all of the changes going on in her body and must be aware that typically safe procedures and medications may affect her differently that they would affect non-pregnant individuals. Although most pregnant patients are seen in dedicated OB clinics or are admitted to OB hospital floors, not all are, meaning that you may take care of a pregnant individual one day even if you have not received adequate or complete training in this specialty area.

Be Careful with Medications

Many medications affect the pregnant body differently than they affect the non-pregnant body. Besides this, not many medications have been tested on pregnant women. Therefore, many hospitalists do not conclusively know whether certain medications are safe for the fetus. Before prescribing a medication, look carefully at other medications the woman may be taking for possible interactions and consult a drug reference for FDA classifications. Class A is the safest, but occasionally doctors may prescribe Class B or C drugs if they determine that the benefits are greater than the risks.

Be Careful with Radiology

While pregnant women can undergo some radiology, you should not subject them to more than is absolutely necessary for the health of the fetus. You may wish to try to delay treating certain medical issues until after pregnancy. However, when you must, pregnant women can undergo x-rays, CT scans or MRIs as well as ultrasounds. Contrast material should not be used.

Consult with the Obstetrics Physician

If you have not received adequate training in obstetrics or gynecology, you simply do not have the knowledge base the woman’s primary OB doctor has. Before prescribing drugs or treatments, consult with the attending physician. He or she may know about underlying conditions or pregnancy risks that would affect your treatment choices or the health of the mother.

Be Aware of Physiologic Changes

Many changes occur in the pregnant woman’s body that can affect her health, particularly during certain treatments. Be aware of the possibility for high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. Other changes that can affect your care of her include high incidences of asthma, increased cardiac output, decreased hematocrit and increased creatinine clearance rates.

Be Careful with Inductions

If you are the attending physician or OB nurse, you will want to be very careful with inducing a pregnant patient. Inductions can produce harder labors and deliveries and can be quite difficult for the mother and the child. Inductions before 40 weeks are rarely indicated. Instead, ensure that the fetus has plenty of time to mature by waiting until 41 or 42 weeks before inducing.

If you do not feel comfortable making a certain decision as you care for a pregnant patient, be sure to consult with the patient’s primary physician or with a nurse or other health care worker skilled in this field. You will not be looked down on for putting the patient’s needs before your own reputation. In fact, you will most likely gain a reputation among your colleagues and patients as being a careful and safe worker.

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.

wearable devices are a threat to patient safety

Is Your Wearable Health Device A Risk to Your Privacy?

Is Your Wearable Health Device A Risk to Your Privacy?

Should patients be concerned about their privacy when using connected health devices? (Photo courtesy of FreePik.com)

The following guest post on wearables and patient privacy was submitted by Joseph Mack.

It seems every time you turn around these days someone is staring at their wrist to check their vitals on their smartwatch or wearable health device. You see them at the gym, on the local hiking trails, and you see them on your coworkers at work. They’re popular items and that’s because more people are recognizing the benefits of a focus on a healthy lifestyle and these devices can help you take it to the next level. That’s not to say they don’t raise any concerns and we’re going to take a look at why you should be exercising a little caution when you wear one.

The Benefits of Wearables

Information is power so having access to real time health data can be of significant benefit to you. There’s no point in being an ostrich with your head in the sand. If you have things you need to improve in your life why not get out in front of the problem? A wearable health device can help you do this.

Wearable health devices can track your heart rate, measure your activity levels, and monitor your sleep patterns. All of these things are vital to good health and understanding patterns can help to identify problems early so that you can make adjustments in your life that can improve your health.
Before the advent of wearable health devices we tended to rely on our healthcare providers heavily to monitor our health and identify any potential concerns. The problem with this system was that we usually didn’t find out about health concerns before we were already at risk. The data our wearable devices collect can catch issues before they become a real issue and reduce our personal stress levels.

Popular Devices and their Risks

Some of the most popular wearable health devices on the market today are those produced by Fitbit. They offer various devices at different price points and they are generally benign with the information simply being shared to an app. In fact, you can share your data over a Wi-Fi connection without ever having to connect with the internet. You have a lot of control over what data you actually share and while any information stored on your smartphone is potentially at risk the risk is minimal in this case.

For devices such as the Zephyr Anywhere BioPatch things are not so black and white. This device can measure a whole host of biometric information which can be ideal for the athlete looking to improve their performance, but all of that information is shared to a remote device or app and that information is vulnerable. The determined hacker can easily access a lot of sensitive health information that could be used against you by health insurance providers and potential or existing employers.

Who Has Access to Your Data?

When you share any information to your smartphone from your wearable health device that information can potentially be accessed by the company that manufacturers your device and your phone company. This is of particular concern if you’re using various cloud services that these devices offer. Those cloud services may be convenient, but any time you use one you’re exposing yourself to a certain level of risk.

It’s a good idea to read your end user licence agreement (EULA) carefully. There may be a clause in there that allows them to share your data with third parties without your knowledge or consent. It’s always a good idea to know and understand your rights. While the clauses in your EULA may seem relatively benign you should always do your homework. If you can have a look at the EULA of a device before you buy it even better!

A report by the American University and the Center for Digital Democracy found that the fragmented healthcare sector currently fails to protect the private information collected by health wearables. Many of this information has been collected by Big Data, and has the potential to offer many benefits as more data can help optimize treatments. However there can be scary repercussions of sharing this information without proper regulations.


How Could Your Own Data Be Used Against You?

We’ve already touched upon it briefly, but it bears repeating – be very cautious when using any type of cloud service associated with a device. As surprising as it may seem, the security of information is a bit of an afterthought when it comes to wearable devices. When you use one you’re gathering a lot of information about yourself that could easily become public record. There are cases where company health insurance providers have denied coverage to employees because of data collected on their own devices. It may be best to keep the data you’re collecting to yourself.

The other thing to keep in mind is that when you share your data online it may be stored in multiple locations over time. These different layers of data can be hard to track and even when you think you’ve deleted information that you’ve shared online there’s a good chance it can still be accessed. With some devices it’s not easy to delete any data that’s been saved – if it’s possible at all. It’s always best to understand what you’re getting yourself into before you commit to anything.

Some Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself

Now that we’ve discussed some of the potential dangers of wearable health devices it’s time to take a step back and look at the positive sides. These devices can help you improve your approach to your overall health by keeping you focused and informed. They key is to understand the privacy issues associated with any device before you purchase one and try to select a device that provides you with the most control over your information.
If you have to spend a bit more for a more secure device wait until you can afford it and opt for the more secure device. If there is firmware that can be updated make sure it’s up to date as security patches can be vital to securing your information. Owning a wearable health device can be a great thing as long as you understand how to use it while protecting your information at the same time.

This is a guest post by Joseph Mack from smarthomeSAGE, a tech blog that analyzes the impact that smart home technology (such as video doorbells on home life).