2021 National Patient Safety Goals revisit familiar areas

The Joint Commission—the oldest and best known healthcare accrediting agency in America—recently announced its 2021 National Patient Safety Goals.

As a former hospital administrator, I know that National Patient Safety Goals get the attention and careful study of hospital leaders. These goals set the standard of care in hospitals nationwide by requiring hospitals to meet objectives in order to attain or maintain accreditation. And, of course, accreditation is necessary for facilities to receive Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance payments.

In my view, the 2021 goals reflect “back to the basics” for hospitals. Here are some of next year’s hospital accreditation goals:

• Goal 1: Improve the accuracy of patient identification.  The common-sense idea behind this is that it’s important to administer medications or treatments or to perform surgery on the correct patient. Believe it or not, this is still a problem. I’ve handled a medical malpractice claim where the wrong patient in a skilled nursing facility was taken to the operating room, where a painful debridement procedure was performed.

• Goal 2: Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers. Now more than ever, health care is multidisciplinary. Physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, therapists, and techs are all part of the team. With the advent of electronic medical records, there’s the temptation for less, rather than more, direct person to person communications. This makes it more likely that critical lab values, radiology findings, and important clinical information will fall through the cracks, to the harm and detriment of patients.

• Goal 3: Improve the safety of using medications. This includes correct labeling of medications, solutions, and containers, reducing risks in anticoagulation therapy, and using and communicating accurate medication information.

• Goal 7: Reduce the risk of health care-associated infections. The focus of this goal is on training and enforcement to ensure that operating room and other personnel comply with hand hygiene guidelines.

• Goal 9: Reduce the risk of patient harm resulting from falls. The standard of care requires the nursing staff to assess each patient’s fall risk upon admission and periodically thereafter, and to advocate for doctors’ orders for any necessary fall prevention measures.

• Goal 14: Prevent health care-associated pressure ulcers (decubitus ulcers). Elderly patients and anyone who’s immobilized has a heightened risk of developing pressure injuries, particularly at bony prominences and heels. Medical and nursing experts know that the best way to treat pressure ulcers is prevention. That’s why the standard of care requires the nursing staff to perform a skin assessment using a standardized tool, such as the Braden Scale, upon admission and periodically throughout admission. Advocating for orders for a specialized mattress, barrier creams, and a proper turning schedule can go a long way toward relieving pressure and avoiding injuries.

• Goal 15: The organization identifies safety risks inherent in its patient population. Focused topics in this area include suicide prevention in behavioral hospitals or units, safe home oxygen therapy for home health providers, and universal protocol (preventing wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong person surgery) for operating rooms and surgery centers,

Top rated, experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyers are familiar with accreditation standards and National Patient Safety Goals and how their importance in medical malpractice cases.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys 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 for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.