Is Hospital Safety and Care on the Upswing?
Many patients worry when told they must go to a hospital for care, and for good reason with the past history that some facilities have.
Stories of patient records being mixed up and other horror stories incite concern.
However, these issues are improving as more hospitals implement changes and utilize new technology.
If you look at the resources available, you will see that overall quality of care and safety in hospitals is improving.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), three-fourths of measures used in determining the level of hospital care had showed improvement from previous reports.
This information was compiled into the 2013 National Healthcare Quality Report which showed information about patient safety, timeliness and care coordination among other criteria.
In an article about the Joint Commission's Annual Report, more than 1,200 hospitals were recognized as top performers in the key quality measures. This was also an increase from prior years.
Leading the Way
Many hospitals are implementing initiatives and strategies to improve patient care and safety.
For example, seven Philadelphia hospitals have joined together to send a team of nurses to the American Association of Critical-Car Nurses' Clinical Scene Investigator Academy to reduce the length of stay in the hospitals and re-admittance for patients.
Hospitals in Florida, including the Lee Memorial Health System, took part in a special initiative to improve patient care.
The hospitals shared best practices and designed educational programs to help educate caregivers. Complications from surgery were down by almost 15 percent for those facilities that took part in the program.
Technology Playing Key Role
Technology has made it possible for many hospitals to improve the care provided.
For instance, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota provides iPads for patients who have received cardiac surgery to track their progress and give them a list of things to do.
Mobile records make it easier for doctors to keep up with patient care in real time, which reduces the waiting time for new treatment or changes in the current plan.
Hospitals in Virginia have an app that patients can use to see their own medical records and email doctors with questions. This encourages those patients to take an active role in their own health and makes medical professionals more accountable.
Other facilities are using other tracking methods to help patients even after they are released from the hospital to avoid re-admittance.
Improvement Still Needed
While many hospitals have made great strides in improving patient safety and care, more changes are needed.
For some facilities, it is the lack of resources and finances to afford new technology that holds them back. For others, they still haven't seen the problems with the current methods or the benefits of implementing new ones.
The challenge is still great, but as more hospitals step forward to lead the way, others will follow.
They will feel the pressure to transform or be left behind as patients seek out the hospitals with the best records.
About the author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including business and health care.