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National Patient Safety Goals for 2022 call for renewed focus on getting the basic right

Wrong site surgeries, wrong patient care continue to be problems

Hospital accrediting agencies have an important role in promoting patient safety initiatives. As a former hospital administrator, I know that hospital administrative, medical, and nursing leaders pay close attention to any new accreditation requirements.

Each year, the oldest and most prominent healthcare accrediting organization, The Joint Commission, releases its National Patient Safety Goals. For 2022, there’s really nothing new, which suggests that hospitals need to double down and focus on the basics.

Identify patients correctly

In the first goal for 2022, The Joint Commission emphasizes the need to use at least two ways to identify patients. This may be as simple as a nurse asking for the patient’s name and date of birth.

Although it may seem unlikely that a patient identity could be confused, it does happen in the real world. This can lead to the wrong patient receiving a medication or treatment.

A few years ago, Painter Law Firm handled a Texas medical malpractice case where there were two patients with the same last name in a skilled nursing facility. One needed a painful debridement procedure, but the surgeon saw the correct surname on a patient door and took the wrong patient with that surname to the operating room (OR). That patient had a hearing impairment and was injured because of a wrong-person surgery. This mistake would’ve been easily avoided if the surgeon and operating room staff had used at least two ways to identify the correct patient.

Improve staff communication

The second National Patient Safety Goal for 2022 emphasizes the importance of getting test results to the right step person on time. This remains a persistent problem in American hospitals.

Orders for blood work or diagnostic radiology, like an x-ray, CT, or MRI,  are made to help make a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Critically abnormal laboratory or radiology results need promptly reported to the ordering physician or provider. In some situations, a written report is generated but there’s no verbal notification. In other situations, the wrong person gets notified. Either way, this leads to results falling through the cracks and delays in care.

Use medicines safely

The third 2022 goal has three components:

• Make sure all medicines are labeled before a procedure.

• Take extra care with patient on blood thinners.

• Be careful with medication reconciliation, documenting in communicating a complete list of patient medications.

Without careful attention to medications, it’s easy for the nursing staff to make mistakes. Some mediation errors are deadly.

It’s also important for physicians and other prescribers to have an up-to-date list of every medication the patient is taking to avoid prescribing a new drug that could cause an adverse reaction.

Use alarms safely

The fourth 2022 National Patient Safety Goal asks hospitals to make improvements to ensure that medical equipment alarms are heard and responded to one time.

Hospitals are noisy placed, and with so much noise alarms may get drowned out and ignored by nurses.

Identify patient safety risks

The fifth goal for 2022 instructs hospitals to reduce the risk for patient suicides.

Prevent mistakes in surgery

The final National Patient Safety Goal for 2022 has three parts:

• Make sure the correct surgery is done on the correct patient and at the correct place on the patient’s body.

• Mark the correct place in the patient’s body before surgery.

• Pause before the surgery to ensure that a mistake is being made.

Hospitals are also busy places. Surgeons and operating room teams often rush from one procedure to the next. The Joint Commission has a long-term goal for hospitals and operating room teams to observe a procedure called the surgical time out or universal protocol. This is a pause before the beginning of surgery, ideally with the patient still awake, where the surgeon and rest of the OR team have a brief discussion and agreement about what’s about to occur.

If you’ve been seriously and because of poor hospital, nursing home, or medical care in Texas, then contact a top-rated experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer for free consultation about your potential case.

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.


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