Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 4, 2014

'Patient Safety Awareness Week' now underway across nation

By Rob Cox Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG — The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has declared March 2 to 8, “Patient Safety Awareness Week.”

According to NPSF’s website, the event is an “annual education and awareness campaign for healthcare safety,” designed to create awareness in the communities served by hospitals both within the United States and around the world.

At local hospital Decatur County Memorial (DCMH), vice president of patient care Diane McKinney told the Daily News the hospital isn’t holding special events or doing anything out of the ordinary to observe patient safety awareness. In McKinney’s view, no one week of any given year at DCMH can be singled out as being more important for patient safety than any other.

“Every week is patient safety week,” she said.

According to McKinney, DCMH has “all kinds of initiatives and processes in place to insure that [patient] care is safe.”

The hospital, she explained, works through a partnership with the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA), which supplies DCMH with a Federal grant to focus on 10 key areas of patient safety. Those areas include the prevention of hospital-developed infections, DVT (deep vein thrombosis – a specific, serious type of blood clot) prevention, adverse-drug-event prevention, patient-fall prevention and pressure-ulcer prevention (which are caused when a patient lays or sits in one position too long). The 10 IHA key focus areas also include an obstetrics-related (the OB of OB/GYN) emphasis on preventing early-elective deliveries in women less than 39 weeks pregnant.

The 39-week guideline arose from data compiled by the March of Dimes, McKinney explained, which find that, between weeks 36 and 39 weeks of a pregnancy, a baby’s brain undergoes major development.

Teams at DCMH are assigned to address specific measures related to each one of the topic areas, McKinney continued. “And we also have other initiatives in place to make sure that communication with patients and families is optimized,” she added.

DCMH director of marketing Lynzee McDowell, for instance, is working on corridor signs that direct hospital visitors and patients to the proper areas. With the community working to adjust to the new floor layouts implemented by the September opening of DCMH’s Medical/Surgical building, those signs are particularly important at the moment.

The hospital’s main entrance, for example, is no longer located on the facility’s west side (colloquially known as “the gift shop entrance”), but is now on the north side, McKinney said.

Another change DCMH has recently instituted to address patient safety is a procedure known as a “bedside shift report.” According to McKinney, the procedure is fairly self-explanatory; it involves the nurse just finishing a shift holding a sort of mini-conference with her replacement at each patient’s bedside.

A bedside shift report is beneficial in a couple ways, McKinney explained. For one, it facilitates direct communication between the patient’s healthcare providers on the floor, leading to fewer opportunities for mistakes. More importantly, perhaps, a bedside shift report directly involves the patient in his or her own care every time there’s a shift change.

Each time a shift change occurs, McKinney stressed, the outgoing and ingoing nurses are required to confer at the patient’s bedside.

“Our focus is always patient safety – communicating with our patients and our community members,” McKinney said. “I’m confident we’re doing a good job focusing on that on a day-to-day basis.”

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011; robert.cox@greensburgdailynews.com