Saturday, July 3, 2010

Still Problems at the Bedside

Pennsylvania Bedside Patient Safety

One thing for sure is that anyone who works in healthcare doesn’t want to be hospitalized in the month of July. That’s when the new residents start at teaching hospitals. The new, never before touched a patient residents with the title “Doctor” before their name.

I was relieved to learn that the patient I was going to spend a week with in a Pennsylvania hospital this week was not going to be a teaching hospital but instead, a small rural hospital where everyone in the hallway says “hello” and nurses know the patient because there are no nurse’s aids. Instead, registered nurses are there who help each other and each other’s patients.

This seems like a good thing and for comfort, it is. This patient has a private room and I was given a recliner to sleep on and access to linens for me and the patient as well as the microwave and refrigerator for my comfort.

But, what does this say about safety? Nothing. Comfort and friendliness has nothing to do with safety, accept it made me, as the patient’s “friend” more comfortable speaking up about my discomfort.

Some of the things I noticed, and questioned were; The nurses never check arm bands because they only have 5 patients. They must have felt that they know their patients. When I asked about this practice they told me they always check, I never saw them check.

I had to ask the nurses, each shift to be sure that the medications are brought to the patient in the original wrappers. When I asked the nurse when I arrived how medication was distributed, and she told me she empty’s the pills into a cup at her nurse’s station, I thought I had entered a time machine – backwards. She agreed to bring the medications in their original wrappers in the future but this request had to be repeated each shift.

To have a cup of pills with no labels is not only dangerous for the patient, but for the nurse distributing them.

There is no comfort in seeing patient safety problems happen when sitting at a patient’s bedside. Knowing that qualified and caring nurses are still taking chances with a patient’s life, I have to wonder what kind of training they are getting in patient safety.

1 comment:

Doug Hall said...

Nice Job!
Yes, even hospitals with a marble lobby complete with piano and friendly hello's have nothing to do with patient-centered quality care and best practices. Your assertive yet professional approach helped to improve the general quality of care, attention to detail and increased time spent at the bedside. Your intervention when the patient ID wasn't checked (even if the patient is very well known), and the pill-in-a-cup medication error waiting to happen, resulted in your patient receiving better care and an uneventful hospitalization. Congratulations.