Patient Safety Is a Top Priority at Baptist

Nov 2 • 2015

Patient safety is a top priority for every Baptist Memorial Health Care facility. From the moment a patient walks in the door for treatment and follow-up procedures, every measure is taken to ensure that patient safety is a focus for each and every employee. With a variety of state-of-the-art measures in place, Baptist has been able to reach significant safety milestones.

One of the biggest areas of discussion in regards to patient safety is hospital-acquired infections in the bladder or blood stream. Baptist works diligently to prevent these in several ways. First, they employ halogen-infection prevention nurses and other quality and safety-oriented nurses and professionals. These staff members are up-to-date on the most recent literature around these topics and all of the best practices in terms of how to care for patients with central lines.

“We put together standardized protocols on how to take care of those lines or how to take care of catheters in your bladder to minimize the likelihood of getting an infection,” said Dr. Mark Swanson, Chief Medical Officer at Baptist Memorial Health Care. “By having this standard method and having people adhere to those protocols, our hospitals have their infection rates at zero or are rapidly driving them down to zero.”

Another important safety measure taken at all Baptist facilities is the use of barcodes. These are used on both medications and identification bands worn by patients. By scanning the band and the barcode on medication, it becomes much more difficult to give the patient the wrong medication and dramatically reduces the likelihood of medication administration errors.

Patient falls are another common concern in terms of patient safety. As the length of the patient’s stay increases, they become more mobile and as a result, have a higher chance of falling. However, Baptist’s falls caution program is extremely robust. “Our staff does hourly rounding on each patient to address their needs in a proactive way,” said Susan Ferguson, Chief Nursing Officer at Baptist. “We don’t want a patient to get up and trip or fall, so we take steps like ensuring the bedside table is close to them.” Baptist nurses also visit a patient’s room frequently to address other personal needs such as checking central lines, catheters, and ventilators.

Technology has made it easier to address patient safety, and as a result Baptist has invested a lot in leveraging it. One of the biggest changes that has been implemented is the electronic health record (EHR). This includes the best practice alert, or BPA. If a patient has a certain diagnosis or medication, or said something about their medical history that should be noted, this alert will come up when the patient is admitted to the hospital or emergency room to prompt the nurse to ask relevant questions. By doing this, the proper precautions can be taken the moment the patient comes into the facility. Additionally, the electronic health record is used throughout all Baptist hospitals and physician office practices. This allows physicians to access a patient’s health records, view lab results, check the patient’s status, and more – all from any location. If there are multiple doctors or specialists caring for the same patient, information can easily be shared.

“The electronic health record allows every physician caring for the patient to be on the same page,” said Dr. Swanson. “It also allows the patient to go online and access their records, see what their lab results are, make an appointment, and even send a message to their physician. This helps to facilitate communication and sharing of information across all caregivers involved with that individual.”

As Baptist staff members work hard to ensure patient safety throughout every part of the journey, patients can work with them to partner in this effort. It is important to be an active participant in your care. If you have questions about your health, feel comfortable to ask your physician. If your caregiver comes in to examine you and you haven’t seen him wash his hands, ask him if he has or remind him to do so. They may have already done this outside the room, but it is important for the patient to feel comfortable.

“The patient should fully understand what is going on with their care,” said Dr. Swanson. “If you forgot what a particular medication is for, ask why it has been prescribed. This also goes for the patient’s families. You may not remember what you are told when you are tired or ill, so encourage family members to ask questions and be an active participant in your care.”

Baptist also encourages people to write down their questions so you can be sure everything is answered and ask the appropriate person in an orderly way. “We take great details to make sure the discharge process is planned early in the admission process so the patient isn’t bombarded on their last day with tons of information to sort through,” said Ferguson. “There is also a whiteboard that is updated in each room with specific patient information so communication can happen regularly. The patient should understand the care they received and what needs to happen when they leave the hospital.”

To find out more about our measures to ensure patient safety, don’t hesitate to speak with your Baptist Memorial Health Care nurse or doctor.

To find a physician, visit our Find a Doctor page.