2. August 2012 10:13
What can we do to reduce noise? There are many attempts to reduce noise in hospitals. Reducing noise should improve the patient experience and improve HCAHP scores. Just as important and a bi-product of noise is patient anxiety! Patients unexpectedly find themselves in a new setting, away from home, facing the unknown in the form of a health condition, unfamiliar with their surroundings or the routine. Activity going on all around them that they do not understand:
What are all these alarms for? Did someone die? Are they for me?
Why does the nurse keep leaving my room to talk on the phone? Is it my doctor? Why don't they want me to hear?
They are always getting calls when they are treating me and leaving the room.
Are they understaffed? If I need assistance, will it be available?
That's a new alarm sound! What does it mean? I don't see any nurses anywhere? What is going on?
Why is this machine attached to me beeping? What does it mean? Am I taking a turn for the worst? Should I call my nurse? Where are they?
I wish my doctor would call. I asked the nurse to notify him I'm having a new pain. The nurse says they can't do anything without the doctor's approval. When will they contact him? Why hasn't he got back to them? Can't they call him again?
Why didn't the nurse answer her phone when she was in my room? Maybe it was my doctor?
Too often caregivers and the communication tools they are given only add to the anxiety.
Alarms all sounding the same and difficult to differentiate their urgency are heard throughout every hospital unit. Nurses go home exhausted from alarm fatigue. Patients lay in bed awakened at all hours of the day and night with anxiety at what the cacophony of alarms and other noises mean.
Nurses are provided phones as the main tool to communicate with other caregivers, departments, and doctors. Unfortunately HIPAA requires they do not talk of clinical matters in front of a patient. The phone causes numerous interruptions for nurses treating patients requiring they leave the room. If they do not answer the phone alternate strategies of overhead paging, and attempts to find them take over.
Today's technology offers many other solutions:
Alarm management tools can make sense of the numerous disjointed devices producing the cacophony of alarm noise.
Sophisticated nurse text messaging (similar to what is available on smartphones) can eliminate 78% of ringing telephone calls, almost all overhead paging and the potential for missed patient requests.
When looking to reduce noise, consider improving patient anxiety as well. It will more than give you justification and urgency to proceed and result in a better environment for all.
10. March 2011 08:57
When I heard that the National Patient Safety Foundation was celebrating Patient Safety Awareness Week this week, my first thought was "Great. What about the other 51 weeks out of the year?" If there were ever a time to get really sick and get rushed to the hospital, this would be the week to do it!
But patient safety is no joking matter. When the New York Times wrote about patient safety in hospitals last November, I don't think anyone in the healthcare field was surprised with the study's findings. The general public, on the other hand, was shocked to read that medical mistakes cause as many as 98,000 preventable deaths and over one million injuries a year. An even more shocking way to look at it is the oft-repeated phrase: "Hospitals kill a jumbo jet full of patients every day due to medical errors."
Studies attribute a large portion of these errors to poor communication and The Joint Commission has even stated that inefficient communication is consistently the root cause of sentinel events. It's no surprise then that the goal for the patient safety campaign is to improve patient care through better communication.
This is something that has always been a core value for Voalte. In fact, improving communication and patient outcomes is part of our Mission Statement. However, regardless of whether it's through Voalté or another system, hospitals need to think about their communication strategy as it relates to patient safety. The technology afforded by smartphones and other mobile devices, while certainly cool, is merely the enabler to improved communication. Think of it as trying to lose weight by buying a workout video. The video is the tool for success, but it's up to the viewer to watch the video, follow the routines correctly, and supplement it with a healthy diet. With the right communication diet, perhaps we can turn that jumbo jet into a little Cesna.
Hospitals all over the country are thinking about patient safety this week and communication plays a big role in that. Below is a fun video from UMC on the subject. Sometimes humor gets the message across more than you think.
What's your hospital doing for Patient Safety Awareness Week?