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What Can Hospitals Do to Improve Patient Safety?

As a patient, you should ask questions of your doctors and be proactive in your care to help keep you safe from medical errors. Nevertheless, if an error does occur, it is not your responsibility but that of the hospital staff.

Though doctors and other staff involved in your care have a responsibility to keep you safe during your stay in the facility, medical errors are still distressingly common. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggests several things that hospitals can do to keep patients safe.

Communicate More Effectively

Miscommunication can lead to preventable mistakes. Evidence-based techniques to build teamwork skills and promote communication can help your health care staff to work together more effectively and avoid errors. It may also help them to communicate more effectively with you.

Limit Shift Durations

Residents are doctors who have recently finished medical school. They serve an apprenticeship of sorts at a hospital to become fully qualified. Some hospitals require residents to work long and grueling shifts without adequate opportunities to rest. The resulting fatigue can lead to medical mistakes that can have an adverse effect on your care. Hospitals can avoid this by setting reasonable schedules for residents with adequate time to sleep.

Re-Engineer Discharges

Hospitals can reduce readmissions by 30% by creating a discharge plan for you that is simple and easy to understand. This involves staff working closely with you and the rest of your health care team to schedule follow-up appointments and reconcile your medications.

It is acceptable for you to ask questions of your health care provider and other staff to find out what the hospital is doing to improve and maintain patient safety.