Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Patient Safety Education; You Need PULSE of NY
In a recent 30 minute presentation about patient safety I began to talk about the difference between a healthcare proxy and patient advocate. A woman in her later years shot her hand up and said “you need to have a friend who knows information about you in case you can’t speak” she told a room full of her peers. It was apparent as we continued the dialogue that she didn’t know what a healthcare proxy or advance directives are. We often assume people know what we are talking about. Patient care is a perfect example of language that is misunderstood and too often the receiver of the information is too intimidated to ask or feeling overwhelmed. They also may think they know information but until it’s time to follow instructions of a care plan – possibly like taking medication, they realize they don’t understand.
“Do you think that a patient’s bed rail needs to always be up to avoid falls?” I asked explaining that falls can cause serious injury and may add as much as $13,000 to a hospital stay. When most of the audience nodded, I explained how a patient, no matter their age, may try to climb out of their bed and this could be tragic. When visiting a friend in the hospital, if you know they may have fallen in the past, be sure the nurses know. “If you see a star or sometimes a picture of a slipper on the door” I explain, “do not encourage the patient to get up”.
The presentation I cover is about some basic topics costing healthcare billions of dollars each year. Falls, infections, literacy, medication and surgery also known as F.I.L.M.S. is the basis of the presentation. Other important topics are advance directives, communication for the best diagnosis and record keeping.
At one community program, audience members admitted that when discharged from the hospital, they left without understanding their next steps. Should they go back to the surgeon, their family physician or not at all? If they didn’t understand their medications they were given, some people have told me they wouldn’t get a prescription filled. Understanding before getting surgery that there are people to help in the hospital with questions or concerns might keep someone from being readmitted because they didn’t understand their care plan.
Most people are annoyed that they are asked on numerous occasions their name and birthday. When learning that this may help reduce errors, participants are encouraged to be sure every person who treats or transports them asks for 2 forms of ID and agree that now they will expect to be asked.
Choosing your advocate needs to be done before an emergency strikes. Will your helper be non-English speaking, over 95 years old and unable to hear with limited sight? Will your advocate or helper be someone who loves you so much they can’t think straight and cries continuously when your clinician talks to you about your cancer diagnosis?
Listening skills, communication examples and fun interaction can turn patient injury into a celebration of care going right.
Patient safety is not about us – or them. It’s everyone’s responsibility to be part of the team working around the patient for patient centered care. We all need to work together to keep a patient safe; friends, family and medical staff. It’s time the information about patient safety comes out of the hospital walls and lands in the laps of the public so changes can happen. If you’re looking for a community presentation that can last 45 minutes to *6 hours, call (516) 579-4711
*The PULSE of NY 6- hour workshop is a certificate programs. Fees may apply