Memorial Regional Health: Asking questions, demanding quality helps boost health care
October 28, 2018
Editor’s note: The following article is sponsored content from Memorial Regional Health
A common term in health care is patient-centered care. In simple terms, it means putting patients first. Gone are the days when you quietly sat on the examination table as your doctor took a look, then quickly summarized the situation. Today, you are encouraged to ask questions.
"By asking questions, patients demand quality, and we are all better for it. The next time you are in the hospital, speak up. Ask for what you need to know about care and safety. Ask for what you need to be comfortable," advised Beka Warren, RN, vice-president of quality for Memorial Regional Health.
Most health systems have patient safety measures in place, along with quality initiatives to ensure high standards of care are met.
"Pick almost any aspect of care, and it has a safety component. Each department in a hospital has its own standards of care and quality guidelines that they follow for patient safety," Warren said.
At MRH, for example, staff go through a protocol before every surgery in the operating room to avoid one of the top patient safety challenges outlined by the National Patient Safety Foundation — that of wrong site surgeries.
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"Everyone in the room stops and takes a time out. Out loud, the surgeon says the patient's name, what surgery they are performing, and other vital information specific to the patient. It's our way of making sure we have the right patient every time," Warren said.
Years ago, MRH implemented barcode scanning — a best practice for avoiding medication errors. Patients are given wristbands with barcodes. Before patients receive medication, their wristbands are scanned to ensure they are getting the right medicine at the right time.
Another common patient safety challenge for hospitals is preventing falls. Patients might fall due to mental and physical impairments, frailty, or confusion.
"Hospitals are very concerned with preventing falls, as they can be devastating for patients," Warren said.
MRH has low fall rates, thanks to several policies and protocols in place to prevent falls, including the "Falling Star" program, in which an image of a yellow falling star is placed on the door of a patient at risk of falling. That way, all staff know to be extra cautious and to make sure they meet the patient's requests immediately. The patient is also informed of his or her high-risk status and is encouraged to ring a bell when feeling unsteady or if help is needed getting up to go to the bathroom.
One of the biggest patient safety issues hospitals face is preventing infections during hospital stays. Hospitals implement hand washing programs, needle-less IVs, and more to prevent infections. MRH's infection rates are well below the national average.
If you ever feel a condition is unsafe or a practice is flawed during a hospital stay, speak up.
"Ask the nurse, 'Do you have a hand washing policy? Do you have enough staff to care for patients? How do you prevent falls?' These are all good questions, and most hospitals, like MRH, that are focused on quality encourage patients to ask them," Warren said.