Monday Medical: Patient safety is hospital focus |

Monday Medical: Patient safety is hospital focus

Stacey Sandvik/For the Steamboat Today

— Ever wonder how safe you are as a patient at Yampa Valley Medical Center?

According to national data on a website that provides hospital-specific quality measures for patients to view, you are very safe.

Anybody may access this information by going to Before the reporting became mandatory in 2009, YVMC provided this information voluntarily. YVMC also publishes several quality measures on its website,

We are proud of our safety record and would like to share some of what we do to keep you safe and what you can do as a patient to ensure your safety while in the hospital.

At YVMC, there is an entire department dedicated to your safety. The Performance Excellence Department participates in a variety of ongoing improvement activities and oversees all the hospital's patient safety and quality improvement functions.

Additionally, there are built-in redundancies and processes that are designed to prevent errors. For example, before a high-risk medication is given, two hospital staff members are required to read and verify the order, and all non-emergent medication orders must be reviewed by the pharmacy.

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All patients are assessed for the likelihood of falling. Patients at higher risk are monitored closely, and additional precautions are put in place to reduce their chances of a fall.

Several committees at YVMC are charged with the oversight of patient care and safety, including a committee of the Board of Trustees solely focused on quality of care and safety. These committees meet monthly to address patient safety concerns and monitor current safety initiatives.

Finally, The Joint Comm­ission, a national hospital accrediting agency, inspects the medical center every three years to verify the processes for patient safety are sound and in line with state and federal regulations. YVMC has been accredited by the Joint Commission continuously since 1979.

As a patient, you can actively participate in your safety while in the hospital. The American Medical Association recommends the following:

■ Keep and bring a list of all your current medications. You should include the purpose of the medication and dosage information. Be aware of what each medication does and any possible side effects. You should also know what your medication looks like.

■ Be sure to participate in all decisions about your care and treatment. You and your doctor should agree on what will be done during each step of your care. Ask your nurse if you have any questions about the care you are receiving while hospitalized. If you are in the hospital and unable to communicate because of your condition or treatment, enlist a family member or close friend to be your advocate.

■ Ask questions if you have any concerns or doubts about the treatment you are about to receive. You should seek information about your diagnosis and/or treatment and feel comfortable asking your doctor about your condition. Be sure to ask for clarification if there is something you do not understand. Question hospital staff if they attempt to administer medication or perform any type of procedure (such as drawing blood) if they have not checked your patient identification band or asked for your name.

■ Make sure you understand how to increase your chances of a quick recovery at home after discharge. You can reduce the risk of infection and decrease the chances that you will have to be readmitted to the hospital. Talk to your nurse or doctor about home care instructions and make sure you understand them and follow them.

■ Report any safety concerns you may have while in the hospital. You may tell your caregiver directly or request to speak to the nurse manager on duty. If you would like to report safety concerns confidentially, YVMC also has a direct phone line for you to call. This number is made available to you upon being admitted to the hospital.

"Providing hospital care is a complex process with many different caregivers focused on your recovery," said Karl Gills, YVMC's chief executive. "We want you to know that your safety is extremely important to us, and we are constantly monitoring our processes for ways to improve.

"If you find yourself at Yampa Valley Medical Center, you can rest assured we are doing everything we can to keep you safe."

Stacey Sandvik is coordinator of performance excellence at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at

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