Year-End Review: Top Patient Safety Goals for 2021

It’s more important than ever that hospitals and healthcare facilities provide optimally safe environments for patients. Patient safety is central to providing consistent and quality healthcare services, while protecting healthcare facilities from costly liability claims and financial losses.

Implementing system-wide protocols, creating a just culture of transparency, and improving the accuracy and consistency of adverse event reporting are all necessary to ensure a successful strategy for patient and workplace safety.

Here are seven specific areas of focus for healthcare organizations to assess when developing patient and workplace safety protocols for 2021.


Improve Accuracy of Patient Identification 

Errors related to the misidentification of patients occur at all stages of diagnosis and treatment. This is especially prevalent in the treatment of newborns, who are at higher risk due to the inability to communicate and a general lack of distinguishing features. To avoid these errors, healthcare facilities should use at least two patient identifiers to match the patient to the relevant service being provided.

A National Patient Safety report by the Joint Commission emphasizes using at least two distinguishing identifiers when administering medications, blood or blood components; when collecting samples for clinical testing; and when providing treatments or procedures to all patients.


Emphasize Transparency & Effectiveness of Caregiver Communication

Creating an environment of transparency and clear communication is paramount to reporting critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures in a timely manner. Critical results may be defined as falling significantly outside a normal range and may indicate a life-threatening situation.

The Joint Commission recommends that healthcare facilities should develop written, standardized procedures for managing critical results. This includes defining what constitutes critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures; determining by whom and to whom critical results should be reported; and deciding upon an acceptable length of time between the availability and reporting of critical results.

With such a systematic approach, healthcare organizations will better be able to implement strategic procedures and protocols that can measurably impact patient safety.


Enhance Safety of Using Medications

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that as many as 4 in 10 patients are harmed in primary and outpatient healthcare around the world. Up to 80% of this patient harm is preventable. Perhaps what is most concerning is that the most detrimental errors are related to diagnosis, prescription and the use of medicines.

Proper labeling of all medications, medication containers and other solutions on and off the sterile field is absolutely imperative for healthcare systems that are serious about reducing the risk of potentially life-threatening results.


Improve Consistency & Accuracy of Adverse Event Reporting

Healthcare facilities can realize significant benefit from streamlining their approach to adverse event reporting. Adverse events include HAIs, wrong-site surgeries and surgical fires in the OR. Consistent reporting of adverse events is critical. Without a system-wide, process-oriented approach, it’s nearly impossible for healthcare providers to understand the causes of adverse events and implement preventive measures.

Improving the consistency and accuracy of adverse event reporting requires that healthcare facilities make an organization-wide commitment to transparency that ensures all staff feels free to immediately report adverse events, without fear of personal retaliation.

Consistent and accurate reporting of adverse events not only increases opportunities for improved patient and workplace safety. It also helps healthcare organizations understand system failures and contributing factors, increases trust and transparency within those facilities, and provides added protection and peace of mind for staff and administrators.


Reduce the Risk of HAIs in Healthcare Facilities

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year millions of people acquire an infection while receiving care, treatment and services in a healthcare institution. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) represent a patient safety issue that affects all types of organizations.

Systematically improving the hand hygiene of healthcare staff is the first and most consequential step to reducing the occurrence of HAIs. To ensure compliance, the Joint Commission recommends that “an organization should assess its compliance with the CDC and/or WHO guidelines through a comprehensive program that provides a hand hygiene policy, fosters a culture of hand hygiene, monitors compliance, and provides feedback.”


Prevent Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure & Wrong-Person Surgeries

Adverse events due to unsafe care in healthcare facilities is likely one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world, according to the WHO. With this in mind, healthcare organizations should redouble their efforts to prevent wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-person surgeries. 

Broad evidence indicates that these procedures are largely preventable. The starting point for systematic improvement involves implementing a robust approach that employs multiple, complementary strategies to ensure the correct procedure is always performed on the correct patient in the correct location.

The Joint Commission provides specific, universal protocols that help hospitals and healthcare facilities avoid preventable patient harm due to these widespread errors.


Reduce the Risk of Surgical Fires in the Operating Room

Fires in the OR are also largely preventable, yet they continue to plague healthcare institutions around the world. In many cases, these surgical fires and burns are attributable to the mishandling of fiber-optic light cables. But major advances in innovative medical devices and equipment have made it possible to reduce, if not eliminate the risk of surgical burns and fires.

Forwarding-thinking healthcare institutions can shore up their safety protocols around OR fires by taking advantage of these potentially life-saving devices, which offer seamless implementation onto existing fiber-optic cables.


Contact us to learn more about how Jackson Medical is helping healthcare organizations prepare for success and growth in 2021.

Latest AORN Surgical Fire Safety Guidelines Hot SheetDownload