Patient Safety

Top 10 Strategies for Keeping Our Patients Safe


Patient Safety Is a Top Priority

We are committed to ensuring that each patient receives the safest care possible and make certain that:

  • All patient safety events are analyzed to identify problems and find solutions
  • Leaders make rounds with staff and patients to identify safety issues that need immediate attention
  • Problems and solutions are shared across our system so we can all can learn
  • Quality and patient safety are first on the agenda at our board and senior leadership meetings
  • We set an annual patient safety goal for which all leaders are responsible

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Accurate Patient Identification

Patient safety begins with making sure we provide the right care to the right patient every time. It starts with the registration process.

  • We purchased PatientSecure, a highly accurate hand-scanning device that reads a patient’s unique palm vein pattern; patients simply place their hand on the palm vein scanner and provide staff with their date of birth and the system will pull up their medical record

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Communication and Teamwork

Hospitals are complex, high-risk environments where precise teamwork and high performance are required. Sharp HealthCare promotes effective communication and cross-monitoring in multiple ways, such as:

  • TeamSTEPPS (Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety), a team training program that teaches caregivers how to better communicate important information among team members
  • TeamSTEPPS tools — such as safety huddles, briefings and closed-loop communication — which offer teams practical ways to improve communication and teamwork

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Electronic Health Record

Sharp HealthCare is in the process of implementing an electronic health record in our hospitals and at Sharp Rees-Stealy clinics. An electronic health record offers many benefits including:

  • Access to complete patient records, as well as home and hospital medication lists
  • Electronic-generated prescriptions with automatic drug interaction checks
  • Readability of all entries
  • Real-time test results
  • Timely safety information

In addition, mySharp allows patients to see test results, send messages to their physician and even schedule appointments online.

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Fair and Just Safety Culture

We encourage the reporting of mistakes so we can learn from them and prevent future events. Sharp strives to maintain a supportive environment so that caregivers are comfortable reporting safety issues and errors.

  • Caregivers are responsible for making good decisions and reporting safety issues and mistakes
  • Sharp leaders ensure that there are safe systems for caregivers to work within, which lessens the risk of errors
  • Sharp provides multiple ways for staff to report problems — by phone, by email and verbally to their leader or safety officer — and allows for anonymous reports

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Partner With Patients for Safer Care

The patient is at the center of all we do at Sharp HealthCare. We encourage patients to partner with their caregivers to ensure safe practices are always used. These practices include:

  • A specially trained rapid response team, which is available when a patient’s condition worsens and help is urgently needed — patients and family can activate the team by calling the hospital H.E.L.P. line (Hospital Emergency Line for Patients)
  • Nurse phone numbers posted in patient rooms for easy patient access
  • Patients and family are encouraged to speak up if they have a question or concern

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Prevent Infections

Keeping our patients free from infections is one of our highest priorities. Our practices to prevent infection include:

  • Hand washing before and after contact with each patient
  • Use of specially trained infection control nurses and physicians to monitor our hospital infection rates and track how well we are following our practices
  • Timely administration of recommended antibiotics to patients prior to surgery
  • Use of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on cleaning and sterilization of equipment
  • Use of recommended practices for wound care and care of hospital-placed lines and tubes

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Rapid Response Teams

These teams bring expert clinical care to the bedsides of patients in need and:

  • Are comprised of nurses and/or respiratory therapists with advanced clinical skills
  • Bring advanced care to the bedside of patients with urgent needs
  • Make rounds on high-risk patients
  • Work with the patient care team to ensure any problems are addressed quickly

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Reliable Systems and Solutions

Sharp uses quality improvement methods — such as Lean, Six Sigma and Change Acceleration — to identify innovative solutions. Some improvements gained using these tools include:

  • Eliminating wasteful steps in the medication administration process, which reduces the opportunity for mistakes
  • Reducing the time it takes for an emergency department patient to be admitted to a bed by an average of 2.5 hours
  • Shortening the time it takes for cardiac patients to get critical labs and tests

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Safe Medication Practices

Medication safety is key for all health care organizations. Sharp provides both staff and technological tools to manage this process safely, such as:

  • Electronic alerts, which provide physicians and staff with real-time safety information that helps prevent errors
  • Medication safety teams — made up of physicians, pharmacists and nurses—that help oversee the process and investigate ways to reduce risks
  • Medication safety technologies, such as “smart” infusion pumps, automated medication dispensing and bar coding
  • Monitoring every aspect of medication use — from buying the safest products to the safe administration of all drugs
  • Pharmacists provide expert consultation for physicians, staff and patients
  • Sharing of best practices for medication safety
  • Streamlined and standardized medication administration processes

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