“Preventable hospital errors are a terrible danger to American families and a huge driver of unnecessary health costs,” says The Leapfrog Group (nonprofit that assesses hospitals on national standards of safety, quality, and efficiency). The hospitals that are transforming health care put patient safety above all and the good news, for the aging community, here in Hampton Roads, is that Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center is one of the 66 “safety superstars.” And, just another great reason to Retire in Williamsburg!
What constitutes a “Safety Superstar” as compared to other hospitals? This title isn’t just statistics speaking; it comes from the hospitals that are instituting checklists, increasing the time at a patient’s bedsides, installing patient safety alerts, among others. These changes in the hospital environment decrease the issues that plague hospitals across the nation.
- Medication errors. Many of the safest hospitals use a computerized provider order entry (CPOE) system, which forces doctors to enter prescriptions electronically, eliminating transcription errors. Bar coding scans the patient’s bracelet to ensure the right patient is getting the right medication at the right dose.
- Infection control. 5-10% of patients get a preventable infection in the hospital. To avert these tragedies, the safest hospitals rely on checklists. For instance,
- Surgical errors. These types of issues are mostly addressed through checklists and technology. For instance, surgical sponges have radio frequency tags in them and the surgical team can wave the wand over the patient before closing to find any left inside the patient. The team has a “Time Out” before the surgery begins by verifying the patient’s name, type of surgery, surgical site, ect.
- Nursing quality. The safest hospitals place the supplies in the patient’s rooms and “hand off” patient information about the patient, in the patient’s room, rather than at the nursing station. Regular rounds and checking in on patients, prevent many falls trying to get to the bathroom.
- Design safety. As new hospitals are being built, many safety features are built into the design. For instance, all patient rooms are identical and oxygen is in the same place, in every room. A hand washing station in every room decreases infections. Handbars are installed to get out of bed, to get around the bathroom, and to help the patient stand. Frequently touched surfaces are made of naturally germ-resistant copper alloys. Real-time monitoring of vital signs can be viewed from outside the room.
- Teamwork and transparency. Hospitals earn trust when they admit a mistake; telling is rare – informing a patient, immediately, when a mistake is made, happens about 2% of the time. The country’s safest hospitals encourage nurses and technicians to speak up when they see a problem.
These superstars will make mistakes, of course, but apparently will learn, adapt, and overcome. At the end of the day, that is the kind of hospital that I want to take my loved one to. I am proud to say that Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center is a Safety Superstar – and hope you decide to make it your hospital, too. For the entire list of hospitals, here is the link to the article sponsored by AARP magazine and the Leapfrog Group.
Do you have any examples of safety improvements in your hospital of choice?
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Rolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO
Licensed in Virginia
Liz Moore and Associates,
5350 Discovery Park Blvd.
Williamsburg, VA 23188
Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.