When working in aging services facilities, ambulatory care, or hospitals, accidents can happen during patient treatments, in the patient environment, or in other scenarios. However, accidents need not become commonplace, compromising your healthcare facilities and the level of care you provide. Instead, by taking time to learn from these accidents and discover the right solutions, you can keep patients safer and further your organization's goals.
What types of accidents might your patients encounter? How can you work to reduce these accidents and foster a greater culture of safety for your patients? Let's examine some of the most common hospital accidents, how you can avoid them, and how ECRI can support you in your journey to better healthcare.
What are common hospital accidents today's patients face?
Some of the most common accidents include:
- Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs): Hospital-acquired infections, or HAIs, are extremely common in hospital settings. They're often transferred by sick individuals (e.g., hospital staff, other patients, visitors) when patients or staff touch infected surfaces, or by devices that are infected and used for patient treatment. Some of the most common HAIs that patients may contract include catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, and Clostridioides difficile.
- Falls (Especially for Older Populations): If your organization operates multiple assisted living facilities or similar facilities focused primarily on senior care, you may already know how prominent falls are in this community. Falling can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of older adults; risks presented by falls include injury, reduced mobility, and depression as a result of reduced mobility or inability to engage in activities they once enjoyed.
- Medication Errors: All medication comes with side effects, and the right medications aren't always prescribed. Sometimes medication errors only present minor side effects that are quickly remedied by taking the patient off the medication and putting them on what's required to treat the underlying health problem. However, other medication errors can result in severe injuries or side effects that extend treatment and worsen the patient's condition.
- Unsafe Procedures: Procedures can potentially be conducted incorrectly, which may have a serious impact on patient health and well-being. Some of the most common procedures or treatments that are conducted incorrectly include unsafe surgical procedures and unsafe injections (in which bloodborne pathogens infect patients or even healthcare practitioners).
- Healthcare Professional Errors: Healthcare professionals are, first and foremost, human beings. Accidents that happen on their end can negatively impact patient care. Some accidents that might arise from improper care by personnel include bumping into equipment, dropping patients, and forgetting specific treatment protocol that is essential to both their health and the health of their patients. These professional errors might also apply to the accidents listed above.
There is potential for accidents in a healthcare facility, but there are ways to address and prevent them.
How to avoid the most common hospital accidents
Fortunately, there are actions that you can take to reduce the number of accidents that occur in your organization. Examples include:
- Developing stringent hygiene (personal and environmental) protocol designed to protect both patients and staff from potential infection. You can achieve this by developing better hand washing standards, providing staff with the right personal protective equipment (PPE), and ensuring that they're sanitizing and disinfecting the hospital environment and equipment that they use for treatment.
- Creating a safer environment for patients to navigate. This is especially important for older adults who find themselves falling frequently in their facilities. Do you offer support to help your senior population move around with ease? Are there supportive elements in the facility designed to prevent falls and make mobility easier? There are plenty of ways to target and prevent these types of accidents.
- Working with hospital accident reconstruction professionals and accident and forensic investigation services. In some cases, we may not know exactly why accidents happen or how we can prevent them in the future. This is where a professional comes in. With the support of someone trained in determining the causes of healthcare-related accidents, you can better understand why certain accidents take place, update your protocol to avoid these accidents in the future, and consistently receive the support you need to navigate new challenges and accidents in your workplace.
Begin your journey to better healthcare with ECRI
ECRI is dedicated to helping you identify and reduce accidents in your healthcare facilities. With a wide range of services including aging services risk management, medication safety, ambulatory risk management, and educational courses on how to conduct an accident investigation, we offer you a total systems approach to safety and risk management that you need to improve the level of care provided in your healthcare facilities. More importantly, we have a large education database to ensure that healthcare professionals and clinicians in your organization are successfully growing as your facilities change.
Learn more about why healthcare organizations nationwide rely on our expert investigators to determine the cause of healthcare-related incidents, deliver remedies, and provide legal support: www.ecri.org/solutions/accident-forensic-investigation-services.