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  • Getting to Zero through the Power of One

Published on June 20, 2012

Getting to Zero through the Power of One

By Jean Hunhoff, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Corporate Compliance Officer

This week, health care organizations across the country are promoting Healthcare Risk Management Week. The theme for this week, “Getting to Zero through the Power of One,” emphasizes the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management’s ongoing initiative to eliminate preventable serious safety events. This initiative will take a collective effort, but will succeed one person, one leader, one organization at a time.

As a Joint Commission (JC) accredited health care organization, patient safety is the foundation for the care that is delivered at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital. As an accredited organization Avera Sacred Heart Hospital is committed to improving safety for patients and residents in the health care organization.

The standards for performance are aimed at risk-reduction activities and intended to reduce the risk of adverse outcomes. Almost 50 percent of the JC standards are directly related to safety, addressing such issues as medication use, infection control, surgery and anesthesia, transfusions, restraint and seclusion, staffing and staff competence, fire safety, medical equipment, emergency management, and security. These standards address a number of programs; the response to adverse events when they occur; the prevention of accidental harm through the prospective analysis and redesign of vulnerable patient systems; and the organization’s responsibility to tell a patient about the outcomes of the care provided to the patient - whether good or bad.

In July 2002, the JC approved its first set of National Patient Safety Goals with related specific requirements to improving the safety of patient care in health care organizations. All JC-accredited health care organizations are surveyed for the implementation of the goals and requirements (or acceptable alternatives) as appropriate to the services the organization provides. The goals and requirements are drawn from a “pool” of recommendations identified as evidence-based or consensus-based, cost-effective and practical. Each year, new recommendations are added to the pool.

The JC has approved one new National Patient Safety Goal for 2012 that focuses on catheter-associated urinary tract infections for the hospital accreditation programs. Other safety practices include:

  • Identifying patients correctly. Each time a patient receives medication or treatment, the provider uses at least two ways to identify the patient
  • Strategies to prevent infections with the emphasis on hand washing by all providers who have contact with patients
  • Accurate check of medications that a patient is on when they come into the health care institution
  • Implementing a fall prevention program for our patients
  • Instructing patients and families on how to report their concerns about safety
  • Watching patients closely for changes in their health and respond quickly if they need help - rapid response teams
  • Prevention of errors during surgery which includes marking the site for the surgery.

All of these goals are implemented at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital. Patient safety is number one. We encourage our patients and families to speak up if they have questions or concerns. Pay attention to the care you receive. Educate yourself about your illness. Learn about the medical tests you get and your treatment plan. Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate. Know what medicines you take and why you take them. Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.