Ripple Effects of Missed Care
Every interaction from ambulation turning, feedings and patient teaching, to emotional support, discharge planning and surveillance can all have an effect on patient safety.
When missed care occurs, the impact is felt in many different forms. Hospital-acquired infections or complications, for example, may present as pneumonia, general weakness, increased potential for falls, skin breakdown or poor nutritional status. All of these symptoms or side effects negatively affect the healing process and patient outcomes.
Similarly, missed patient education, discharge planning and emotional support can influence patient cooperation with the treatment plan which can increase length of stay and risk of readmission.
Next Generation Care Delivery
In response to the value-based care and patient safety movement — as well as regulatory interventions and technology innovations — hospitals and health systems are changing the way they deliver patient care.
Significant obstacles such as gaps in labor, poor communication and a lack of physical resources can all hinder a healthcare organization’s advancement in safety fall prevention and efficiency.
To directly address these disparities, hospitals and health systems use advanced nurse call systems to enhance outcome-driven care by supporting quality initiatives and strengthening clinical, operational and financial outcomes. This guide will cover the many ways that advanced nurse call technology (and the best nurse call system) can provide everything from alarm fatigue solutions to safety fall prevention, making healthcare facilities safer and more effective for both staff and patients.
Accurate Assessments in Real Time
Initial assessments of any patient can be uncertain. Accuracy of information from the start can help prevent errors throughout the cycle of care. According to a study from John Hopkins, medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 10 percent of all deaths, or more than 250,000 per year.
With interconnected nurse call systems, all the patient information is available in real time, enabling providers to make informed decisions quickly and avoid costly mistakes or redundancies in care. Records of all incidents that occur with each patient are entered directly into the EMR through the advanced nurse call system, ensuring accurate and consistent documentation and patient rounding — which is key to patient safety throughout the continuum of care.
Reducing Alarm Fatigue in Staff
Alarm fatigue and patient safety is an important issue to address, as the number of alarms going off over the course of an average nurse’s shift can be overwhelming.
According to the Joint Commission, 85 to 99 percent of alarm signals do not require clinical intervention. Over time, staff are in danger of subconsciously tuning out some of their alarms as they try to focus on the task at hand. To combat alarm fatigue, hospitals must implement a strategy, and alarm fatigue solutions, to reduce the unnecessary noise levels and help workers differentiate between the signals they experience each day.
Nurse call technology for alarm fatigue solutions assigns different corridor light colors to each alarm type and also sends notifications to the right providers to ensure a swift and appropriate response. Each corridor light color is used to categorize specific signals in the nurse call system. Once the signal has been triggered, the nurse call system sends a notification to the appropriate person’s mobile device notifying them of the signal without increasing noise in the healing environment.
The nurses’ station also has access to the active alerts throughout the call system, accelerating response time and improving patient care. Through detailed categorization and notification of alerts, nurse call systems that incorporate alarm fatigue solutions improve efficiency and limit exposure of providers and patients to excess alerts and alarms. This, in turn, reduces alarm fatigue and improves healthcare provider responsiveness while also preventing medical errors.
Patient Safety: Fall Prevention
In terms of obstacles to patient safety, falls are among the most common. Accidental fall incidents are frequently reported at hospitals and cause complications in approximately 2 percent of hospital stays.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of death and injury in older Americans. In 2014, older Americans experienced 29 million falls, causing 7 million injuries and costing an estimated $31 billion in annual Medicare costs. The Joint Commission reports about 30 to 50 percent of falls in hospitals result in injury, with the rate of falls in the U.S. ranging from 3.3 to 11.5 falls per 1,000 patient days.
One of the keys to keeping patients safe and reducing falls is constant assessment of each patient’s fall risk. An intelligent nurse call system enables hospitals with specific functions and notifications to avoid falls throughout the patient life cycle including:
- Using a pillow-side speaker and audio bath stations to enable mobility requests so the patient is always assisted.
- Displaying lights throughout the facility that indicate varying levels of fall risk for each patient.
- Creating “Do Not Pass Zones” in areas where high-risk patients are being mobilized.
- Communicating directly with a patient to answer questions or address concerns.
Nurse call technology connects patients to providers to ensure a care team member is present to assist with mobility or address other concerns. An automated report with patient care information is generated through the system in real time and helps build a robust safety fall prevention program and ensure compliance.
Manage Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI)
Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are the most frequent adverse event in healthcare delivery worldwide. According to the CDC, HAIs affect 5 to 10 percent of hospitalized patients in the U.S. annually, totaling approximately 1.7 million infections, 99,000 deaths and an estimated $20 billion in healthcare costs each year. Research suggests when healthcare facilities, care teams and individual providers are aware of infection problems and take specific steps to prevent them, the rates of certain HAIs can decrease by more than 70 percent.
A nurse call system is a valuable asset for healthcare facilities when working to reduce HAIs. The technology monitors care and generates alerts to keep providers on schedule with delivery of patient services. These automated reminders help ensure care is provided to patients at the appropriate time to reduce prolonged lapses that may result in infection. Notifications for turning or other care are sent directly to care team members when services are needed through advanced nurse call technology. All treatment is recorded into patient records for future reference and to run meaningful reports for quality improvement initiatives and patient rounding.
Automated Patient Rounding
Purposeful patient rounding seeks to improve the patient experience and outcomes through the use of hourly rounding routines.
A study from Stanford Health Care found significant benefits to patient safety after adopting purposeful rounding practices, including:
- Reduced anxiety
- Improved efficiency
- Enhanced quality indicators, pain management and fall prevention
- Boosted teamwork and communication
- Advanced quality and accountability
Furthermore, automated rounding alerts equip providers with valuable information and notifications for each patient so they can provide targeted care to meet each individual’s needs. Rounding for outcomes also assists in increasing patient satisfaction as their needs are being proactively addressed, especially when automated by a great nurse call system.
When it is time to round on a patient, the right staff personnel are notified, and a patient rounding check sheet automatically documents all the steps that have been taken with each patient encounter. Utilizing the interoperability of a nurse call system, providers can send the rounding check sheet directly into the patient EMR so it is documented and available to the next provider.
Pain affects more Americans than diabetes and cancer combined, afflicting more than 100 million Americans.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 76.2 million Americans have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours, and millions more suffer from acute pain each day. The diversity of pain conditions demands comprehensive treatment options from healthcare providers.
Understanding the cause of pain, and making sure the levels are tolerable and in check, enhances the quality of care, improves patient satisfaction and strengthens patient safety (falls due to pain, for example, can be prevented). Using a nurse call system, providers can select a reminder to bring a clinician at predetermined intervals to check on patient pain levels. The system also can generate reports on pain reassessment that are directly stored in the patient record for future reference. Continual monitoring of patient pain levels ensures treatment plans are progressing according to plan or any changes in a patient’s condition are discovered and addressed as soon as possible. As pain management ranges from medication distribution to wound care and turning, a centralized system of automated reports and alerts can drastically improve the quality of care.
Isolating Potentially Contagious Patients
Infectious diseases easily pass directly or indirectly from one person to another, creating significant threats in healthcare settings. The World Health Organization (WHO) found three common types of infectious diseases ranked in the top 10 causes of death globally: lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS and diarrheal diseases. Other serious infectious diseases that pose a great risk to patient safety include influenza, small pox, hepatitis and tuberculosis.
Nurse call systems track all interactions with infectious patients and therefore help limit the spread of bacteria, viruses and diseases to other patients and staff by keeping a running list of individuals that have been in contact with the patient. Real-time information on highly contagious patients enables providers to limit opportunities for spreading infection among vulnerable populations and reduce the risk of unnecessary illness, injury or complications.
Through a streamlined process, nurse call systems reinforce infection control policies and assist providers in taking every necessary precaution. As staff come in contact with the potentially contagious patient, each encounter is recorded to better control the situation and opportunity for an outbreak. These records are included in an ever-growing database of historic data and patient rounding, enabling each patient encounter to be referenced and analyzed in the future.