With the continued merging of technology and data with the healthcare industry, hospitals have found the advantages of Using Patient Data to Prevent Errors. Big data when studied can reveal patterns that might be unseen to the human eye. These patterns can show ways that hospital errors can be prevented. A healthcare organization or hospital is a complex organization full of many moving parts daily. This makes making errors hard to avoid, but there are ways that hospital errors can be minimized and maybe even avoided altogether. Below we discuss ways that Using Patient Data to Prevent Errors can be done.
Have Fewer Hand offs
A Hospital is a complex organization made up of many moving parts and this means that from time to time patients have to be handed off to different departments or different treatment facilities. Every point of handoff is a point of increased risk of errors occurring. Thus, hospitals, in order to prevent errors, should reduce instances of handoffs by simplifying processes. Studying the patterns in data will show the handoffs that lead to the most errors or possibility for errors and also hospitals can either reduce the possibility of those handoffs or take extra care and crosscheck and double check data and processes when those kinds of handoffs occur.
If a task is done the same way every time and this is common knowledge, there will be less possibility of errors occurring. Having standardized processes and ways of doing things will help. Employees should not be expected to rely on memory for how things should be done. Processes should be standardized and written down so they can be followed correctly every time and employees can easily refer back to these processes if they are unsure of certain things. Relying less on memory and more on written down and standardized tasks reduces the risk of errors.
Free Flowing Information
When processes are standardized and written down, they should be easily accessible. In addition to this, any information required by employees to do their jobs should be made easily accessible. Technology today makes information sharing a lot easier and hospitals should take advantage of this. When employees do not have proper and timely access to information about patients, processes, tasks etc, then faulty decisions can be made thus leading to errors.
Knowing that errors must occur at some point and in some ways, having a system of error detection is a proactive take on preventing errors in hospitals. Error detection systems can help warn about errors and even prevent them from occurring. For example, in entering a patients name into a system, if there is a patient already entered into the system who has the same name, an error detection system can warn for that thus promoting the person entering the information to make some kind of adjustment to distinguish between the matching names and prevent others from mixing them up. Also having a system that checks and cross check for small mistakes will help correct almost all errors before they become a problem.
If you are in the medical industry either working in hospitals or research, you understand to an extent the importance of patient engagement. Patient engagement helps to increase the quality of care because the doctors and nurses get the best and direct information from patients on how they are feeling, the effectiveness of their treatment and other information which help with diagnosis and treatment. Engaging patients and their families, opens up a wealth of information hitherto inaccessible. Also when patients feel more engaged, they are in a better position to receive care and have a better mindset.
Appropriate and Conducive Environment
A hospital wishing to reduce errors should study its environment and adjust it accordingly to reduce the occurrence of errors. A nurse is less likely to misread a prescription name or dosage on a file if there is proper lighting. A patient is more likely to be engaged if the environment feels safe and is not cluttered, noisy or chaotic. Anything that can improve working conditions and also improve the comfort of staff and patients should be applied.
Adjust Work Hours
Nurses and doctors are generally overworked and sometimes stay awake and on their feet for 24 hours staring or more. The more tired a doctor is, the more likely they are to make mistakes. Adjusting hours of doctors and nurses in order to reduce fatigue and long work hours will help to reduce possible errors from occurring. Doctors and nurses should no working overtime and so schedules should be adjusted to avoid this at all costs.
Hospitals should regularly train their employees on safety measures and how to watch for safety violations and errors. They should also be trained on how to report safety issues and communicate properly to fix any problems that arise. It’s one thing to notice a safety issue but it’s another to effectively fix it in a timely manner. Say there is a naked wire in a patient’s room and a nurse notices it. They should be able to quickly solve the problem by reaching out to the right department and having someone sent down to fix it in a timely manner. Doctors and nurses should also be trained on how to identify possible safety violations that could cause harm to a patient and report it immediately. This also means avoiding indirect communication or a nonchalant approach to safety issues. So with the example of the naked wire, when the nurse notices it and goes to the nurses’ station to say “somebody should do something about that”. Doing this will be ineffective and will likely see the problem left unsolved. Instead, the nurses and doctors should be trained to pick up the phone and get someone to fix the issue immediately.