Be a Voice for Patient Safety

The problem is becoming more and more serious. In 1999 Americans learned from the study, To Error is Human by the Institute of Medicine that 98,000 patients die every year from preventable errors in hospitals. In 2013, a study in the Journal of Patient Safety found an increasing number between 210,000 and 440,000 patients are dying from preventable errors each year in hospitals.

This striking statistic is causing many to acUnited Safetyt. Each year, to help health care organizations increase safety, The National Safety Patient Foundation promotes an annual education and awareness week campaign. Patient Safety Awareness Week educates healthcare staff and patients about the importance of preventing errors within hospitals.

As a nurse it is important to start early, practicing good safety habits to keep patients safe and healthy. Patient safety research shows that most errors occur during change-of-shift report.  As a result, a standardized change-of-shift report was created to reduce nurse to nurse communication errors. The following is done:

    1. Require two nurse signatures
    2. Adhere evaluations

These two simple tasks can prevent many complications and can help patients get the correct care they need. For nurses it is important to increase communication during these pivotal moments of  in between care and shift changing.

As a patient it is also important to talk to your healthcare professional to make sure you understand your own care.  Make sure your nurse or hospital staff explain to you any medication, treatments or procedures. Ask the following :

  1. Name of your medication
  2. Purpose of your medication
  3. Time for your medication to be taken
  4. How to take your medication
  5. Side effects of the medication

If you feel your nurse or hospital staff have not answered these questions ask them to do so.

Together, patients and healthcare professionals can eliminate the problem of unsafe healthcare. As everyone works together with better communication, everyone can prevent errors in hospitals every day, and not just during Patient Safety Awareness Week.

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