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Archive March 2015 XVI, No. 3

6 Patient Safety Enhancers

Give your staff the tools they need to prevent harm.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


time out discussion TIME FOR TIME OUT Staff and surgeons at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center confirm the correct patient, eye, procedure and lens implant before every procedure.

When asked about what she does to ensure patients are protected during every aspect of surgery, Elizabeth Wein, MPS, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, executive director of surgical services at Saint Clare's Health System in Denville, N.J., starts to share. Five minutes later, a pause. "That's one long sentence," she says with a laugh. "I guess everything we do is related to patient safety in one way or another." That probably sounds a lot like your facility. There's no doubt you already place extreme importance on protecting those in your care. The following solutions will just make it easier to do.

1. Pre-printed medication labels
Pre-printed medication labels improve the efficiency and accuracy of medication administration, says Ms. Wein. "You don't face issues with illegible penmanship," she explains. "Even when staff or anesthesia providers print drug information, they don't always print clearly," she says. "The important details aren't always evident."

Imelda Kelly, RN, CRNO, director of regulatory compliance at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center in Phoenix, Ariz., says pre-printed medication labels encourage her CRNAs to follow safe medication administration protocols — they only have to note their initials, and the date and time syringes are filled — during a packed day of high-volume cataracts that could see them preparing multiple syringes for up to 40 patients. "If they had to write all that information over and over again," says Ms. Kelly, "I don't think we'd get what we wanted in terms of compliance."

Beverly Kirchner, RN, BSN, CNOR, CASC, president of Genesee Associates in Highland Village, Texas, says staff at the surgery centers she manages pre-print labels for medications listed on pre-op orders. They then check the label against the drug, stick the label on a syringe, draw the medication and re-check the filled syringe against the order. Finally, they note their initials and the date on the label to confirm the syringe's contents match what was ordered. The process holds staff accountable for the drugs they administer. "Not only have we given them tools to avoid mistakes," says Ms. Kirchner, "but they have the obligation to check their own work so they catch their own errors."

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