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Home E-Weekly May 1, 2018

Opioid Misuse Among the Year's Top Safety Concerns

Published: May 1, 2018

Cleaning Endoscopic TARGETED APPROACH Pain management strategies should be tailored to an individual patient's needs.

The current opioid epidemic, improper instrument reprocessing and ineffective communication among healthcare providers made ECRI Institute's annual top 10 list of patient safety concerns. The independent research firm in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., identified several key issues that could jeopardize safe surgical care:

  • #2 Opioid Misuse Opioid prescriptions given in the outpatient setting are contributing to the nationwide abuse crisis, but the problem impacts the entire continuum of care. ECRI says limiting the use of opioids is a multifaceted problem that requires healthcare providers in all clinical settings to base pain management strategies on a patient's individual need and set realistic expectations of the pain experience.
  • #3 Care Coordination A lack of effective communication among providers increases the risk of patient harm caused by preventable errors. ECRI says handoff tools, checklists and team huddles ensure vital patient information is shared among providers at every step of the care pathway.
  • #4 Workarounds Shortcuts in clinical settings based on habits or "the way things are done" in a facility put patients in jeopardy says ECRI, which suggests facility leaders encourage staff to speak up without fear of retribution if they see colleagues cutting corners and make sure policies and procedures are feasible in actual practice before requiring them to implemented.
  • #7 All-Hazards Emergency Preparedness ECRI says healthcare facilities must have plans in place for responding to the unexpected, including natural disasters, mass shootings and ransomware attacks.
  • #8 Instrument Reprocessing Failing to properly clean, disinfect and sterilize devices, instruments and flexible endoscopes is a growing concern. Facility leaders must ensure reprocessing areas have adequate staffing levels and the equipment needed to handle workloads, and make sure staff follow current reprocessing guidelines and manufacturers' instructions for instrument care.
  • #9 Patient Health Literacy Patients who don't know how to take active roles in their own care are at increased risk of serious harm. That's why ECRI suggests providers must do a better job of ensuring patients understand the directives they've been given, present educational materials in easy-to-understand formats and use clear and concise language when conducting one-one-discussions with patients.
  • #10 Leadership Engagement ECRI says patient safety initiatives are limited without investment from facility leaders. Risk managers can achieve leadership buy-in by recruiting champions who support patient safety initiatives from the frontline of care to the C-suite.

"The list does not necessarily represent the issues that occur most frequently or are most severe," says William Marella, MBA, MMI, executive director of operations and analytics of patient safety, risk and quality at ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization. "Most organizations already know what their high frequency, high-severity challenges are. This list identifies concerns that have appeared in our members' inquiries, their root cause analyses, and in the adverse events they submit to our organization."

Daniel Cook

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