Of the many causes of avoidable deaths, particularly in the developed countries such as the USA, improper patient care tops the list. Medical records show that about 98,000 deaths occur every year as a result of avoidable errors in the medical practice; that is more than twice the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents across the country in a year.
While some would argue that individual practitioners should carry the blame for these unfortunate occurrences, it must be remembered that not all errors are precipitated by negligence or medical malpractice. Some shortcomings in the medical care system are also partly to blame. As such, the need to improve the patient safety measures cannot be ignored. As a medical practitioner, you need to remember the following patient safety tips at all times.
Management of Test Results and Diagnostic Imaging Report Is Vital
By prudently managing your patients’ test results, you significantly reduce the chances of making costly safety errors. An effective way of doing this is by embracing technology and storing medical records electronically. This ensures that patients’ tests and referrals are reconciled for easy follow-up. Communicating with the patients on test results and imaging reports is also a way of making follow-up easy and convenient.
Proper Documentation Is Key
You should document every small detail about a patient’s health history. You need to have a record of whether or not a patient has known allergies or is under any form of medication even before you commence the treatment. Also, make sure that you inquire from the patient as of whether he or she uses over-the-counter drugs or herbal medicine. With such data documented either electronically or in a file, chances of making errors are reduced.
Your Front Office Team Is Key Player in Patient Safety
In most cases, front office staff members are overlooked or dismissed as irrelevant. What you need to know is that this is the team that receives patients and reconciles nearly all steps of the treatment process. Always ensure that the team has sober people who are committed and professional enough to handle sensitive patients’ information.
Always Emphasize on Facility Hygiene
Neglecting hygiene leads to increased hospital-acquired infections which can then precipitate avoidable deaths. Always ensure that you and your clinical staff maintain high levels of personal hygiene when attending to patients.
Let Your Policies Be Guided by Evidence
It is advisable not to be a know-it-all physician. When coming up with patient safety policies, always consider research findings from reputable bodies such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.
It must not be lost to you that a patient expects nothing but 100 percent safety in the presence of a physician. It is upon you to live up to this trust and high expectations. Be the champion of patient safety.