Steamboat hospital staff stars in patient-safety film

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— Decisions made at hospitals can have life-changing results, which is why Yampa Valley Medical Center employees next week will emphasize the routine steps they need to take to keep patients safe.

Patient safety is emphasized at most hospitals, but mistakes still are made, and sometimes those mistakes are preventable. Medical errors kill 98,000 people annually, according to the National Priorities Partnership, a group that offers consulting services to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Quality care and patient safety is No. 1,” said Mary Jo Wiedel, who is YVMC’s director of imaging as well as the patient safety officer.

YVMC recognizes Patient Safety Week annually, but this year Wiedel and quality data specialist Glenn Sommerfeld helped lead the effort to make sure more of the staff members and departments were involved.

“We really put some thought into it,” said Wiedel. “We thought, if you are going to raise awareness, you want to go around the entire organization and get people involved.”

Wiedel and Sommerfeld spent 2 1/2 weeks going to nearly every department of the hospital to see what three words staff members could use to serve as patient-safety reminders.

Their end product was a 13-minute video that will be shown to hospital employees next week.

“It was a project to raise awareness within our department,” Wiedel said.

For example, staff members in YVMC’s lab department chose the three words “positive patient identification” to emphasize the importance of pairing specimens with the correct patient. In the radiology department, staff members thought it was important to remember to “shield your patients.” The little ones in the GrandKids Child Care Center demonstrated how to “catch your cough” to prevent spreading germs. The dietary department plans to keep in mind “colorful foods first.”

Sommerfeld said sharing the tips specific to certain department should be beneficial to everyone. For example, the housekeeping crew thought it was important to remember to use the mirrors that are placed at hospital hallway intersections to see people around the corner.

“I’m already using the mirrors more,” Sommerfeld said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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