South Florida Hospital News
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February 2005 - Volume 1 - Issue 7
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Hospitals Team Up at North Broward Medical Center in the Name of Patient Safety

November 2004 marked the start of the "Patient Safety Task Force" Broward County Chapter. North Broward Medical Center organized and hosted the event. The taskforce was formed to enable hospitals to work together to improve patient safety in area hospitals. Patient Safety Officers and Risk Managers from six different hospitals in Broward County met to pool ideas, processes and discuss trending in regards to patient safety. The program marks the start of quarterly meetings to make hospitals safer in Broward County.

It is imperative that hospitals work together to provide the safest levels of care for our communities. Successful elements of hospital Patient Safety Programs were highlighted and shared with area hospitals. One such program implemented at North Broward involved improving the alarm systems of various critical medical equipment.

For example: Survey of nursing areas suggested that IV pump alarms in some patient rooms were difficult to hear by clinical staff. This had the potential to decrease response time to an adverse event, compromising patient safety. As a result, IV pumps in identified rooms were interfaced with the nurse call system, so that when the IV pump alarms, it will alarm at the nurses station as well. This innovative approach improved our alarm turnaround time tremendously, maximizing our patients safety. As a result, North Broward Medical center was recognized as a case study organization by the JCAHO. North Broward was featured on the June 18th JCAHO Satellite Videoconference, viewed by 650 hospitals.

By forming a patient safety taskforce in Broward County, successful programs like this can be more easily adopted at other hospitals. Thus, Patient Safety Officers can implement what has worked elsewhere, and spend less time re-inventing the wheel. In the end, patients will be safer.

Other topics discussed at the Patient Safety Task Force included:

  • Issuing similar Patient Safety surveys to staff members at different facilities.
  • Implementing a fair and just culture where employees will more openly report potential medical errors.
  • Anonymous medical error reporting
  • Executive patient safety rounds
The administrative team at North Broward Medical Center is in full support of pooling Patient Safety processes. Each month, both the administrative team and Patient Safety Officer visit patient care areas to interview staff on patient safety topics. Employees are very receptive and are happy to see administration place such an emphasis on patient safety. Programs implemented as a result of employee input include:
  • The "Do Not Leave the Floor Guidelines" - promoting that patients do not wander off of their assigned unit
  • Portable bed alarms to decrease the chances of a patient falling
  • Separation of patients with similar names to decrease chance of error
  • Elimination of look alike/sound alike medications to prevent mix up
  • Creation of the new monthly Patient Safety Newsletter
Joe Bernardo, Patient Safety Officer, North Broward Medical Center can be reached at Jbernardo@nbhd.org.
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