March 17, 2022
When patients come to Good Samaritan Hospital, they can expect not only exceptional care, but care delivered with the highest level of safety. That means the entire hospital staff is constantly working on all the details that ensure patients stay safe, whether that’s from infections, falls or other common hospital risks.
As we mark Patient Safety Awareness Week, Good Samaritan Hospital is celebrating its recognition as a 2022 Patient Safety Excellence Award™ recipient in an independent evaluation by Healthgrades, placing the hospital among the top 10% of all short-term acute care hospitals in the nation.
Studies in medical journals have calculated that there are hundreds of thousands of instances of preventable harm in hospital settings across the nation every year, which is why patient safety is an everyday, all-year focus for Good Samaritan Hospital. And it all starts with awareness and commitment on the part of the hospital’s care teams, said Tammy Evans, a registered nurse who serves as Vice President of Quality at Good Samaritan Hospital.
“Studies show that most of the time, patient safety is compromised because employees are afraid to raise their hand or to stop something they see could become a problem in the future,” Evans said. “That’s why, starting at the top, we’ve created a culture that communicates that safety is first and truly celebrating every time someone says, ‘let’s take a pause and prevent harm’.”
For 2022, the hospital’s two main safety focuses are on hospital-acquired pressure injuries – skin wounds that many people call “bedsores” – and on reducing falls, which often happen when patients try to move out of their beds without proper assistance from nursing staff.
One of the pieces of this safety culture is called “four eyes in four hours.” This is a procedure that ensures that every patient receives a detailed skin assessment by two trained members of the care team within the first four hours after admission to the hospital. Those “four eyes” are charged with noting any problems or potential issues in the patient’s chart, and if the need exists, start the healing process with a care plan.
Each department in the hospital also has people designated as “wound warriors,” Evans said, whose job is to continue to evaluate the pressure injury situation and work with the rest of the team to determine what additional resources might be needed to resolve the issue. That could be anything from addressing nutritional issues to escalating the case to a more acute level of care.
“It’s a real partnership, where we make sure there’s an extra set of hands,” Evans said.
There’s a similar partnership and team effort when it comes to preventing injuries from a fall. Reducing the potential for a fall is crucial, because “every time there’s a fall, there’s an opportunity for patient harm,” she said.
It begins with ensuring the care team makes a careful and thorough “fall assessment” on patient arrival – for example, whether a patient already has any difficulty standing or walking, or if they are taking medication that can cause dizziness. The same assessment is made every time a nursing shift changes, as well as after a patient undergoes any type of procedure.
“We are looking for anything that might increase the chance for a fall – if we think the patient might need to use the restroom more often, even the location of things in the restroom itself, or by the bedside,” she said. “We think about the location of the bedside table, the lighting, not having clutter in the room – and making sure we check on the patient often.
In April, the hospital will enact a “no pass zone” rule – which means that anyone who passes by a patient room where the red “call” light is illuminated doesn’t keep going – they go into the room and check on the situation. Then they will stay until a member of the clinical team for that patient can come and take over.
These and other safety protocols take extra time and attention – but they also will help ensure the hospital keeps its Safety Excellence Award year after year.
“Zero harm is possible,” Evans said. “That takes a village, but at Good Samaritan, we have the right people to make it happen.”