Five Patient Safety Goals for 2016

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, Change Healthcare (Retired)
Nurse ensuring patient safety at home

The 2016 Home Care National Patient Safety Goals from The Joint Commission remain unchanged from 2015, which I believe reflects their importance.

The five goals are straightforward and should be part of any home health organization’s initial assessment and ongoing relationship with patients. By reiterating the 2015 goals, The Joint Commission is underlining the importance of each home health safety goal.

Let’s take a closer look at each patient safety goal for 2016:

  1. Identify patients correctly (NPSG.01.01.01). The goal is to identify patients two ways to prevent misidentification. For example, ask the patient to verify full name and date of birth. A mistyped name could return another patient with a wholly different set of needs than the target patient. Use the same dual-verification strategy when looking over a patient’s medications, medical records, treatment plans and anything else with identifying information.
  2. Use medicines safely (NSPG.03.06.01). Preventable medication errors during patient encounters result in $20.6 billion in unnecessary annual spending and 7,000 unnecessary deaths, according to the New England Health Institute. All medications should be noted upon intake, but they also should be checked again as medications change. Asking about new or discontinued medications should be a part of each clinical visit.
  3. Prevent infection (NPSG.07.01.01). We all know about the importance of hand-washing to safeguard patient health. But we’re all probably guilty of skimping on this step from time to time. Although compliance falls to the individual, this issue must be addressed at the leadership level. Patients, too, can be empowered to advocate for their own health.
  4. Prevent patients from falling (NPSG.09.02.01). More than 700,000 people are hospitalized yearly due to fall injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Broken hips and head injuries are the most common injuries, which affect older patients more acutely. While fall risk is part of the initial assessment, clinicians and aides should be trained to remain vigilant in this area, especially as medication changes might cause dizziness.
  5. Identify patient safety risks (NPSG.15.02.01). Not only is this related to No. 4, it also is part of the initial assessment. But situations in the home change during a care episode, so due diligence should be taken at every visit to monitor potentially harmful situations.

These are all commonsense goals that your staff are doing anyway. But frequent reminders help keep us all on our toes.

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