Patient safety should always be in the forefront of all caregivers’ mind, and, in fact drive how we provide care each and every day. 

Take falls for example, you should know that one of the most common and debilitating injuries which happens to healthy older people is an accidental fall. In turn, this should drive the need that we are always aware of fall risks. Although we’re all at risk of tripping on the sidewalk or stumbling down the dark stairs, falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death among older people.

Reports of almost 3 million adults aged 65 or older are treated annually in Emergency Departments for injures resulting from falls.  Seniors are hospitalized five times more often for fall related injuries than any other type of healthcare emergency. In the most severe fall case may result with a senior losing their ability to live independently.

How do you make the patient environment safer for those at greater risk for falls?  Do you adjust your actions if the patient is at greater risk for injury from a fall?  You should.  You should be aware if there is a patient on anticoagulants, you should know that if they fall they are at a higher risk for bleeding injury.  You should be aware of a patient with impaired eyesight that places them at higher risk of injury.

Awareness often boils down to adequate communication.  Make sure that you are passing along information that will keep all care providers aware of limitations and special needs of your patients. 

This year, as you observe National Patient Safety Awareness Week, I encourage you to share success stories with each other.  This is the best way to increase your awareness, sharing best practices and what is working in your environment can benefit your co-workers and ultimately, all our patients.

 

Lisa Chadwick
Director of Safety and Risk Management