Having been a patient in critical condition myself, I’ll never forget the stress and fear I encountered when I checked into the emergency room one “summery” January day in California. I had some swelling in my left arm that didn’t physically affect me but turned out to be a very serious DVT in my upper extremities. As I think about Patient Safety Awareness Week (#PSAW19), I remember how stressed I felt with my pending thrombolysis surgery, and how unsure I was as to when I would recover and regain my ‘normal’ life back. In retrospect, there is one thing I realized that I didn’t worry about – my safety while being cared for. I never had a moment of doubt.
Patients have an expectation of safety when they enter the healthcare system. While they may be concerned or scared about the diagnosis, what treatment is recommended and their prognosis, they don’t often consider the fact that an accident or error might occur.
Nurse Caseloads and Physician Burnout
According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, even though there has been real progress made in patient safety over the past two decades, current estimates place harm as a leading cause of death worldwide. There are dozens of factors that open patients to harm. And while most media attention is focused on the actual error itself (incorrect or wrong medication, wrong site surgery, etc.), there are underlying “human condition” causes that often don’t get the same focus. For example:
A study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies show every extra patient on a nurse's caseload increased mortality rates by 7 percent. Many states have enacted legislation or adopted regulations around nurse staffing ratios – many Emergency Departments have a 3-to-1 patient to nurse staff ratio. Along similar lines in a study as recent as 2017, more than 51% of physicians experience frequent or constant feelings of burnout, often attributed to the clerical burden they face.
Care Logistics Solutions and Patient Safety
One way to counteract burnout is for hospital leaders to embrace technology that can help manage the functional aspects of care delivery. For example, RTLS (real-time locating systems that work like indoor GPS systems) can automatically track the location and status of patients and equipment. Mobile communication (used in virtually all other aspects of life) can automatically deliver information to everyone on the care team. And AI / machine learning advances can help model staffing ratios with more accurate patient census predictions. Although these technologies don’t always get attention as patient safety advances, TAGNOS believes there’s an absolute correlation between removing as much of the extraneous logistics delays and frustrations from care delivery teams as possible and creating clear-minded, rested staff that are therefore less prone to accidents and errors that impact the safety and security of patients.
TAGNOS is the clinical logistics automation solution healthcare teams use to operate more efficiently. We continually seek to break down the barriers that prevent staff from easily accessing the data they need to plan care and make in-the-moment course corrections to better run their hospitals and serve their patients. You can read more detail on how we do it here:
So while this is the official end of Patient Safety Awareness Week 2019, we function like every week is Patient Safety Awareness Week at TAGNOS. Everything we do is predicated on helping assist care teams with operational intelligence to simplify, streamline and optimize the functional aspects of care delivery so that their attention can be fully focused on the clinical aspects of care.
Happy Patient Safety Awareness Week – a special thanks to all the clinical, emergency and ancillary teams that dedicate their lives to people like me.
Director Product Management & Marketing