A controversial BMJ article published in May 2016 implicated medical error as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Three common medical errors– inadequate patient communication, human error and hospital acquired infections(HAC)- can be eliminated through improved care patterns.
You can make a difference. Resolve to revolutionize the healthcare you provide in 2017:
- Patients are #1.
Care with patients, rather than for patients. The patient is the most important care team member- and most likely to be the expert in their own care context. Patients benefit from a strengths assessment, thorough discharge planning and effective patient teaching, yet studies have suggested that nurses spend less than 35% of their time providing direct patient care in the acute care environment. Considering an average nurse/patient ratio is 1:5 and typical shift length is 12 hours, that’s about 40 minutes of direct care nursing per patient per day. Not much time for patient-centered assessment and communication. Improve your patient-centered communication and caring skills by buffing up on motivational interviewing techniques and therapeutic communication . To ensure effective patient education and support, consider using the evidence-based teach-back method to place the patient at the center of care. More on patient safety concepts here.
- Monitor YOUR well being.
Well healthcare workers are safe healthcare workers. Depression, anxiety, poor quality of life and high levels of stress correlate with a higher rate patient safety errors due to human factors.
Ever wonder if you are burned out? Try the Maslach Burnout Inventory to get a quick read on your state-of-mind. Feeling depressed,anxious or believe that you may be experiencing burnout? Most employers provide access to Employee Assistance and mental health programs. Check with your Benefits office for more information. Several on-line resources which may be helpful: Quick article about burnout prevention, burnout recovery and a CE article Burnout and Coping with Job Related Stress.
- Wash your hands.
According to the CDC, hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of HACs. The agency estimates about one in 25 patients acquires an infection while in a hospital, and about 10% of those patients die as a result. And yet, on average, healthcare providers miss more than half of all hand hygiene opportunities.
And if healthcare workers around you don’t take the opportunity to wash their hands, speak up. It often isn’t easy, but it’s about patient safety. ‘Nuff said.
Resolve to do the sick no harm– and provide patient care that matters in 2017.