Patients rely on hospitals to recover from serious illnesses and injuries. Hospitals take this responsibility seriously, understanding that improving patient safety can have significant financial benefits and lead to better patient outcomes. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), diagnostic errors, medication mix-ups, and blood clots can all put patients at risk, but smart strategies such as employing patient sitters can reduce these risks and keep patients safer.
1. Maintain Patient Room Cleanliness
HAIs breed and spread in unclean environments, so keeping patient rooms clean is vital. Environmental services staff should assess rooms and remove obstacles that could impede safe cleaning. Patient rooms should be cleaned using a systematic approach to ensure consistency. Moving from cleaner, rarely-touched surfaces to dirtier ones touched frequently reduces dirt and microorganism spread. Moving from the top of the room to the bottom ensures that clean areas aren't contaminated by those above.
2. Practice Proper Hand Hygiene
As 80% of all infections are spread by hands, all people who interact with patients must maintain proper hand hygiene to prevent passing HAIs. Clinical and nonclinical associates should clean their hands with sanitizer or soap and water when entering and exiting patient rooms. They may also clean their hands throughout the day to ensure their hands stay free of contaminants.
3. Develop Optimized Discharge Process
Specialized patient transporters trained in safely moving patients can reduce risks to patients moving throughout the hospital. As soon as a patient is discharged, a transporter can transport them to the hospital exit. This approach cuts the time recovered patients spend in the hospital without specialized care.
Collaboration between these patient transporters and environmental services can further standardize and improve the discharge process. On discharging the patient, the transporter can quickly alert environmental services that the room is ready for cleaning. Environmental services can act more quickly so rooms don't sit vacant and dirty for too long. Minimizing cleaning delays reduces the risk of bacteria and viruses growing in the hospital and putting other patients at risk.
4. Keep High-Risk Patients Safer With Trained Sitters
Some patients, such as behavioral health or fall risk patients, are at higher risk of harm than others. Trained patient sitters can ensure patients are kept safe by providing dedicated care and preventing patient falls. They reduce the burden on nurses by allowing nurses to focus on other tasks. Having a patient sitter makes patients feel more comfortable and supported during their hospital stays. Adventist Health Bakersfield, who uses patient sitters from Crothall Healthcare, has not recorded any significant falls while team members were present since introducing sitters in 2019.
5. Apply UV-C Technology Creatively
UV-C technology can inactivate stubborn pathogens that can cause dangerous diseases. Utilizing UV-C devices can make high-risk rooms, such as bathrooms, much cleaner. Many hospitals achieve better consumer assessment scores after introducing UV-C devices.
Hospitals must provide a safe environment so focusing on cleanliness, optimizing the discharge process, and making use of cutting-edge technology, will allow healthcare facilities to substantially improve patient safety.