Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Patient safety is a year-round endeavor

We are in the midst of National Patient Safety Awareness Week, but hospitals and patients must focus on safety year round.

At The William W. Backus Hospital and many healthcare organizations nationwide, the number one priority is to enhance quality and safety. It’s part of our mission – to give our patients the best care possible.

From the moment a patient enters the doors of the hospital, safety is a concept that is practiced, taught and reinforced.

And we are more transparent than ever before. The U.S. government tracks patient safety and satisfaction at hospitals, and we make our results publicly available at www.backushospital.org/patientsafety.

This website also offers reports a weekly percentage of patients who, when surveyed, say they would recommend Backus to their friends or family members; patient safety videos; and a patient handbook that offers patients safety information for before, during and after their hospital stay.

We are constantly seeking innovative ways to make care safer for our patients – whether it is simple things like frequently washing our hands, offering pre-surgery education or installing a pharmacy robot to reduce medication errors.

We spend a lot of time researching best practices and implementing these strategies to reduce patient falls, improve surgical safety by initiating timeouts before each procedure, monitor our patients more closely through hourly rounding, bedside reporting so that our clinicians are at the bedside and not in conference rooms and monitoring data and acting on it in real time.

But as a patient or family member, you are also part of the healthcare team. And National Patient Safety Awareness Week March 6-12 is a good time to offer reminders on how you can play a role in your healthcare, including:

• Ask questions about your care.
• Tell us if you don’t understand what we are saying
• Explain to us what you need or want
• Share your medical history
• Tell us about prior medical problems and surgeries
• Make sure we know about any allergies
• Read your discharge instructions and make sure you understand them – and ask questions before you go home.

Working together, we can all improve patient safety – year round.

Bonnie Thompson, an advanced practice nurse, is Administrative Director of Organizational Excellence at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at
www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Thompson or any of the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org

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