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Six Goals for making Patients Safer in Hospitals

Career News August 4, 2013

Hospital patient safety demands a global approach, as well as an individualized approach. Along with the broader range of group safety processes, nurses must also promote a patient well-being focus that centers on one procedure at a time.

For example, an article from the Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CC-HHS), details the importance of communication, confirmation and an ingrained respect for patient safety throughout the entire hospital process. The article identifies poor communication as the primary cause of unfavorable results from hospital to patient activities.

Nurses cannot assume that respect for hospital protocol is limited by procedure. Safety issues that apply to non-emergent major procedures must also apply to routine ED procedures. In other words, drawing blood bears the same safety-conscious mindset as is applied to chest tube procedures. Each process requires:

Pre-Procedure Verification – Equipment, staff and space must be properly prepared. Team understanding and patient consent must align with the correct patient, correct procedure and the precise site of administration.
Site Marking – Is included when more than one site (i.e. eyes, kidneys, lungs) are available to a given procedure. This process is performed only by the operative surgeon.
Time Out – To ensure that every aspect of hospital patient safety concerning the associated procedure has been clearly and correctly applied; nurses must stop, observe, listen and participate in any procedure related discussions.

Expanding the Process

The Joint Commission provides extended reports and links that are designed to help nurses, doctors and other patient care professionals better understand the current national patient safety goals. The associated links address specific procedures as well as a general approach to hospital procedures and patient safeguards.

The following six goals identify healthcare patient safety issues and how to best prevent errors in the process:

Accurate Patient Identification

Nurses should apply a minimum of two approaches to patient identification. Name and date of birth are the most typical forms of patient ID, yet other measures may also be included. Your goal is to ensure an accurate relationship between patient-to-medicine, patient-to-treatment and patient-to-procedure.

Accurate Staff Communications

Speak clearly. Write legibly. Get the facts straight. Make sure that important results reach the right station or person on time, correctly identified and properly labeled.

Safe Use of Medicines

Record details pertaining to medicines with care and accuracy. Practice basic medicine identification processes. When preparing for a procedure, label any medicines that will be used in the procedure, including content in basins, cups and syringes. Review the medicines at the source of setup. You should also:

•Research the patient’s current medicines
•Request an up-to-date list of medicines from the patient before each doctor visit
•Compare changes and be sure that new and old medicines do not conflict
•Inform the patient with verbal and written instructions for post-surgery use of medicines.

Infection Prevention

Start by applying the healthcare settings and hand hygiene for workers and patients from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Establish clear guidelines for hand cleaning, including precise goals geared to improve healthcare hand cleaning among workers and patients.

Special areas of concern and associated infection control guidelines include:

•Difficult to treat infections
•Blood associated with central lines
•Post surgery cleanup and infection prevention
•Urinary tract infections associated with catheters

Unique Patient Safety Risks

Weight-loss surgery can heighten the risk of patient suicide. Other factors also come into play. For best preventive measures, nurses should learn how to apply human factors such as increased observation practices and historical behavior patterns. Before the surgery begins, identify which patients fit the typical patterns of inpatient suicide behavior.

Preventable Mistakes

This is a nutshell item. It falls back to correctly identifying the patient, the procedure and the site, the three primary points that this article began on start-up.


Don’t get caught beneath a wave of poor hospital patient safety procedures and practices. Every nurse can make a difference. Every nurse can help prevent hospital errors that can result in difficult patient recovery.

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