How to Ensure Patient Safety in Hospitals

Doctor talking to a patient
Cheryl Lee
July 15, 2022
1 min read
Doctor talking to a patient

Patient safety must always be the number one priority in all healthcare industries. Patients who are admitted into hospitals are likely hurt, scared and injured. It is the hospital staff’s responsibility to ensure these patients are completely safe and given the best healthcare possible.

As the medical community continuously evolves, there will always be plenty of room for improvement for patient safety initiatives. Hospitals are growing larger and busier, and safety measures that protect patients can occasionally fall through the cracks. Patient safety in hospitals is now important to healthcare workers who are committed to meeting their patients’ needs and keeping them safe at all times.

Read on to delve into the definition of patient safety and ways on how you can help protect patients who come through your facility.

What is patient safety?

It’s easy to assume healthcare settings are naturally safe places, but in reality, hospitals can be filled with lurking dangers due to the potential for infections or medical errors. Ensuring patient safety can be achieved by reducing the risk for these potential errors, injuries or infections.

Patient safety is defined by the WHO as avoiding harm to patients and the freedom from accidental or preventable injuries produced by medical care.

Tips to ensure patient safety

No matter how you define it, patient safety is not something to take lightly. Every person who works in a healthcare facility has an important role to play in keeping patients safe. Read up on these tips below to explore what you and your healthcare facility can do to help.

Use monitoring technology

One way to boost patient safety is to invest in equipment that can assist healthcare workers in ensuring overall safety. One example of such equipment and technology is monitoring technology.

Healthcare workers in hospitals care for multiple patients during their shifts; each one with various different needs and medications. Using monitoring technology can aid nurses and doctors in verifying they are following the right procedure and prescription for the right patient. This can also help ensure they are keeping on top of each patient’s needs.

Monitoring technology such as bed alarms if a patient falls or barcode systems to verify medication, are measures you can undertake to improve patient safety.

Such monitoring technology provides an easy and convenient way to catch and prevent any harm that could be caused by human error in hospitals.

By investing in monitoring technology for your hosptal, you are investing in ensuring the safety of your patients.

Practice person-centred care

You may assume all safety responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the healthcare provider, but making sure the patients are aware of their own care is critical to preventing errors.

Patient-centred care is about treating a person receiving healthcare with dignity and respect. This also includes involving the patient in all decisions about their health. This does not mean patients need to have the same level of knowledge as their healthcare professional— but a level of understanding of their treatment and risks involved can go a long way.

An easy way to check if the patient has fully understood their treatment and risks involved is to ask them to recall and restate their treatment plan. By verifying patients and their family members understand their care plan, you are giving them the tools they need to notice and prevent errors in their own care.

Modern patients increasingly participate in their own medical treatment planning. As educated consumers, these patients will possess the ability to ask the right questions and notice potential problems, improving patient safety.

Incorporate safe hospital design

Traditional hospital design focuses more on operational efficiency than patient safety by designating interconnected work areas close to each other. However, patient-centric hospital design includes structural features such as air quality control, critical information proximity and fixtures that reduce contagion spread such as hand sinks in all treatment areas.

Most importantly, safe hospital design integrates planning to quantify and benchmark hospital conditions and features, such as convenience of information access, noise levels and other factors.

Using good hospital design principles is key to ensuring patient safety. Prevent patient falls with evidence-based design of patient rooms and bathrooms. Invest in anti-slip flooring and consider decentralising nurses’ stations, which can allow easier observation and access to patients. Prevent prescription errors by providing pharmacists with well-lit, quiet and private spaces to fill prescriptions without any distractions.

By investing and focusing on ensuring your hospital boasts safe and patient-centric design is one way to ensure patient safety.

Communication and accountability

Like most companies and organisations, communication is key. Communication and trust with hospital management is crucial for reporting hazards and assessing performance and program effectiveness. Every employee, especially in a hospital setting should know how to report incidents and unsafe conditions within the facility.

Ensuring patient safety is like a puzzle— and accountability is a major piece of this safety puzzle. It’s critical to measure the success and effectiveness of safety standards and procedures in order to improve on them.

With accountability of all hospital staff, then will your organisation be able to determine the fault lines of existing operations and fine-tune them in order to reduce error in providing patient care.

It is important to minimise mistakes due to lack of communication between doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Your organisation can work on this soft skill by sending employees for team bonding sessions and seminars on how to communicate effectively in changing clinical situations.

patient safety
Organising team bonding sessions and seminars on proper communication among your staff members can ensure patient safety.

Create a patient safety policy

Hospitals should create a strict safety and health policy all staff must abide by. There should also be a written policy available to all employees at all times. You should also actively update this policy whenever needed.

This safety policy should include, but are not limited to:

  • Procedures and processes to follow
  • Key goals of your facility
  • Patient safety procedures
  • Prescription related procedures
  • What staff should do in the case of an emergency

Your organisation should take some time to think about what disciplinary actions those who fail to adhere have to face.

With a patient safety policy, hospital employees will be more knowledgeable about their roles and responsibilities within your organisation. They will also be more confident in healthcare provision and will in turn boost patient satisfaction.

This patient safety policy will aid employees in their roles by ensuring staff have a suitable employee handbook to fall back upon in the case of an emergency or unexpected event, and provide top-class healthcare.

In a nutshell

The small actions that employees take every day can have a huge impact on patient safety in hospitals. Hospitals can also ensure patient safety in ways such as ensuring proper and safe hospital design with monitoring technology. Staff can also work on practicing patient-centred care as well as team communication and accountability.

After all, as a healthcare facility, patient safety is always the top priority. With these tips on how to ensure patient safety, adopting them will no doubt benefit you and your facility.

About the author

Besides school and work, Venus spends her free time dancing (she has been a dancer for more than 10 years). She also enjoys spending time just chilling at home and hanging out with her friends.

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