Stormont Team Focuses On Patient Safety

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - People expect a hospital stay to make them or their loved one feel better, not worse. But errors and complications do happen, often from routine tasks.

Recognizing that, Topeka's Stormont-Vail HealthCare implemented a patient safety initiative aimed at ensuring basic preventative measures are done every single time.

"The basic things need to be done every time, without exception, because you can't predict who will suffer the consequences," said Dr. Doug Rose, Stormont-Vail'sChief Medical Quality Officer.

Rose leads the Patient Safety First team. Formed in September 2011, it looks at all aspects of patient safety. That includes how staff is complying with basic practices, how the facility is set up, what might need to change and how to make that change happen.

The team does weekly rounds and hold regular meetings. All areas of the facility are involved, from maintenance and transportation all the way to the top with CEO Randy Peterson joining the tours and meetings.

Rose says staff has been forthcoming in sharing concerns and barriers. The committee discusses them, too, and aims to arrive at solutions.

One of those basic areas is washing hands before every patient contact to prevent spread of infection. Industry-wide observational studies show a shockingly low 40 to 50 percent compliance. Rose says Stormont studied itself and found their facility was no different, so they took a hard look at why.

What they learned was that sinks and sanitizer dispensers were not in appropriate and convenient locations. Rose says the proper tools needed to be in the logical workflow in order to make it an automatic part of the routine. Dispensers are now outside most every room, inside most every room and in other locations throughout the halls and work stations.

Rose says compliance is now near 90 percent.

Another potential complication is medication errors. Changes to workflow and staffing ensure the right medication is given to the right person - and it's not always high tech. Rose says it may seem like the staff member knows who the patient is, but, one time in a million they might mix something up, and simply asking the patient's name would prevent the error.

Other areas addressed include preventing trips and falls, and improving communication between patients and medical staff.

Rose says errors are rare, but the goal is to prevent any they possibly can. He says patients don't know about the 999,999 other incidents that went flawlessly before, they are concerned with their one situation - that of themselves or their loved one.