Happy Patient Week, Nurses!
Patients falling from their beds, medication errors, and hospital-acquired infections are things most healthcare workers are extremely familiar with. However, despite being common, patient safety is still a topic not all people in the profession openly talk about.
As nurses and as primary caregivers of our patients, we are bound to keep them safe and in good condition all the time. With this year’s celebration of Patient Safety Week, here are 5 of the best tips nurses can use to ensure safer delivery of care.
1Enhance communication between team members
Failure to communicate between team members has resulted in over 1,700 patient deaths over the last couple of years. And as if that’s not enough, consider too the $1.7 billion it has cost hospitals due to malpractice.
Good communication ensures that people understand their common goal and that they act in coordination with one another. It isn’t just about relaying the right information at the right time. It should also involve encouraging what the other members of the team have in mind. Whether it is a CNA, a nurse, or a doctor, every member has the right to voice out his concerns.
One of the best ways to improve communication within a healthcare team is to conduct safety briefings. These briefings should include step-by-step instructions, data collections, and pre- and post-evaluations to check the effectiveness of your team’s safety programs.
You should also clarify roles within the team. If one of the members isn’t sure about what he needs to do, the omission of that task can put your patient’s safety at risk.
2Develop better infection control measures
The importance of infection control in nursing has been first identified and emphasized way back during Florence Nightingale’s time. Over the years, more tools and measures have been developed to prevent patients from acquiring infections during their stay in the hospital. If your institution has been failing to keep infections to a minimum, it’s probably the right time to go through your protocols again.
Take, for example, hand washing.
It is known to be widely effective in preventing the spread of infections. Despite its importance, however, there are several studies that suggest how poor health workers are in performing it. Some reasons include limited time and having inconvenient access to hand-washing facilities.
One good way to solve these issues to is to set up alternative interventions to boost health workers’ compliance with good hand hygiene. You can set up hand sanitizers and alcohol-based hand rubs near or inside every patient room. Your institution should also be more strict when it comes to wearing rings and having long fingernails.
With so many things nurses have to accomplish within their shift, keeping a close eye on every patient on the floor can be a daunting task. This is where technology can be a big help.
Electronic records, for example, are easier to access and share between team members. They can keep everyone up-to-date about the patients’ allergies, existing medications, and treatment plans. Electronic wristbands are great examples, too. Scanning these wristbands helps ensure that the right patient receives the correct medication.
Technology can also play a big role in preventing prescription errors. With electronic prescribing, there’ll be 50% less errors compared to manual and handwritten prescriptions.
Although beneficial, these tools will still be dependent on the user. Because of this, institutions must make sure that nurses and the rest of the health care team are fully informed about their use, limitations, and drawbacks. Seminars and hands-on training programs must be conducted to ensure that everyone knows how to use them.
4Improve working conditions
The health of nurses is as equally important as the health of their patients. If they are feeling pain and discomfort, they are more likely to be less focused on their work. Stress is also a common experience among nurses. Most of the time, it’s due to the organization, the physical and psychological demands of the job, and being exposed to several health risks.
These mental and physical effects of poor working conditions can compromise patient safety. Nurses can easily miss the subtle changes in their patients’ conditions, administer the wrong medications, and may even fail to perform the necessary procedures that are vital to their patients.
Staffing shortages count, too. When there are less people working in the hospital, the institution becomes less capable of preventing the outbreak of infections. In addition to that, a shortage of nurses has also been linked to falls, medication errors, and deaths.
Since a shortage in nurses can be quite difficult to solve, using tools and equipment is your next best option. Lifting equipment, for example, can help make patient transfer a lot easier, faster, and safer for both patients and nurses. Proper scheduling and delegation of tasks are parts of good working conditions, too.
Aside from skills and specialties, nurses can also take certification programs on patient safety. These programs typically include courses and modules on designing safer care systems, improving interdisciplinary coordination, and other tools on mitigating workplace hazards.
By enrolling, you’ll have access to evidence-based safety practices, particularly the newly innovated ones. You’ll be able to help your institution integrate these practices into its existing programs to further elevate its standards. As patient safety still requires improvements and more research, engaging ourselves in continuous learning is one good way to make sure we can keep up with its demand.
And if you worry about the programs consuming too much of your free time, there are actually courses you can take online. You can take the modules any time and anywhere you are free.
A nurse’s duty doesn’t end in administering medications and assessing patients. For our care to be effective, we must also ensure that we are able to prevent harm to our patients during the process. In order for us to do this, we need to utilize evidence-based strategies, interdisciplinary coordination, and the right tools.