When you or a family member must undergo a medical procedure, safety should be just as much a concern for you as it is for your health care provider.
That is why the National Patient Safety Foundation has chosen the theme "Patient Safety: A Road Taken Together" for this year's Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 2 to 8.
In recognition of this year's Patient Safety Awareness Week, Yampa Valley Medical Center announces a new program. The Patient/Family Activated Rapid Response Team will add another layer to patient safety during hospital stays and encourage patients and their families to play an active role in their care.
A rapid response team is a group of health care providers trained to rapidly assess patients whose condition appears to be worsening. For more than two years, YVMC has had a rapid response team known as the Condition Assessment Team.
The team is comprised of a critical-care-trained registered nurse and a respiratory therapist. At YVMC, a CAT always is available for a bedside nurse to call if a patient's condition has changed and/or the nurse needs another set of eyes to assess a patient's status. The new program enables a patient, a family member or visitor to call for the team.
"Many patients feel intimidated by the health care environment and are reluctant to question their care givers," said Linda Casner, senior director of patient safety and clinical education. "We want to encourage every patient to be an active participant, not a passive recipient."
To activate the system, a caller dials "0" from the hospital room phone. A hospital operator will answer and ask the caller for the patient's name, room number, caller's name and brief reason for the call. The operator will follow a flow chart to activate the system and page the team on duty.
Yampa Valley Medical Center will be at the forefront of a national movement to implement this type of program, which is strongly recommended by the Joint Commission's National Patient Safety Goals.
"My hope is that it's a lifeline no one will ever need to use," said Casner. "However, we want to encourage patients and families to partner with the nurses and physicians involved in their care."
This program complements another program already in place at YVMC, the STAR program. STAR stands for Safety Teaching using Auxiliary Resources. Volunteers from the YVMC Auxiliary sit down with patients and encourage them to be educated, involved and curious. The program emphasizes to patients that "it's OK to ask" and "it's OK to speak up."
YVMC is also one of 3,000 hospitals nationally to participate in the 5 Million Lives Campaign. The campaign helps hospitals to adopt interventions to improve care, including implementing rapid response teams.
Other goals of this national safety movement are adherence to best practices known to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia, prevention of infections from intravenous lines, reduction of pressure ulcers (bed sores), reduction of infections including drug-resistant staph and to make certain that patients receive the right medications.
Ongoing staff education also is extremely important to further strengthen patient safety efforts. During Patient Safety Awareness Week, several departments at YVMC will stage purposely hazardous scenarios in empty patient rooms. Hospital staff are invited to visit the rooms and identify unsafe situations. Each room will feature situations unique to its department, and prizes will be awarded to the staff who can identify the most hazards.
Patient Safety Awareness Week is a national observance founded by the National Patient Safety Foundation. The theme of the week, "Patient Safety: A Road Taken Together," emphasizes a collective effort for safer health care through partnership among providers, patients, families and communities.
Founded in 2002, this week is intended to raise public awareness about the work being done to improve patient safety and the important role that effective partnering plays in these improvement efforts.
Riley Polumbus is communications specialist at Yampa Valley Medical Center.