patient safety. doctor examining a child in a hospitalWe are all unique individuals. But despite our differences, we share one thing in common: we are all patients. At every stage in our lives, we place our trust in our healthcare system to be there for us to provide safe and quality care. But have you ever experienced a time where you received anything but that?

Patient Safety Awareness Week, sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is being held March 10-16, 2019. The week-long holiday’s mission is to raise awareness around patient safety, hoping that both healthcare professionals and patients can work together to find new ways to prevent fatalities when safety isn’t treated as a priority.

Why celebrate?

No healthcare system is perfect, but every day your team should be striving towards achieving a new standard. Susan Mellott, Associate Professor at Texas Women’s University believes that patient safety measures can be achieved, as long as they are talked about. She tells her students:

“First of all, there are people who don’t understand what a culture of safety is. They may think “Okay, we just keep the patient safe,” but it is far more than that. Learning that Just Culture is a process, not the individual that makes mistakes, and that everybody will make a mistake at some point in time is so important. We need to look at the processes and refine those so that we prevent mistakes from happening or, if something does happen, we put in a safeguard to prevent it from getting to the patient. That’s one big factor.”

Every patient-physician relationship should be transparent. As a patient, you need to understand where your power is. Ask questions when you are feeling lost, keep track of your information, and do your best to understand medical terminology. For healthcare professionals, strive to have open and clear discussions that empower and engage your patients.

So, what are the common challenges that are threatening patient safety?

  • Medication errors
  • Infections
  • Physician-led medical errors
  • Falls
  • Readmissions
  • Unorganized patient information

What clinicians can do to support patient safety?

Culture is key. Any organization that wants to better understand where their shortcomings are should be invested in technology. By now, we are all aware of the precision that technology has brought to multiple industries, but for healthcare professionals it has become a key player and part of their workflow.

Malaz Boustani, Founding Director of the Indiana University Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute shares why there’s a need for technology to transform the patient experience:

“If your industry is primarily dominated by humans, you need to remember that humans are emotionally-driven decision makers. They don’t adhere to logic all of the time.  So you need to build your solutions to match that environment, not expect people to match your software.”

So how can you create a culture of technology? For organizations who struggle with prescription drugs, they should strive towards a precise solution that writes out the drugs in correlation to the patient to avoid any errors. For monitoring infections, falls, and readmissions, use predictive analytics to analyze data to understand just who is at risk and what trends they are following for them to make a decision supported by good reasoning.

How has analytics helped improve patient safety? Here’s a look.

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Looking for ways to be an advocate for safe healthcare? Here’s how you can help.

Kayla Chiara

Kayla is a marketing specialist at Dimensional Insight. When she's not in the office, you can find her working on local films or with her newest foster dog from Last Hope K9 Rescue.
Kayla Chiara