News spotlight: Make the most of patient safety with free tips and tools

Nurse Leader Insider, March 23, 2009

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March is patient safety month, and to celebrate, below are some tips for hospitals to increase patient safety from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). You can use these tips to educate your staff, and also pass on to others in your facility:

  • If you are looking to improve your patient safety culture, AHRQ provides a free survey tool, along with an entire toolkit, to assess patient safety culture, track changes in patient safety, and evaluate the effect of patient safety interventions.
  • Lower the risk for medical error by limiting shifts for hospital staff. Evidence shows shorter shifts (less than 12-16 hours) can reduce medical errors.
  • Focus on building teamwork and communication. Communication between hospital staff is vital for ensuring patient safety. AHRQ and the Department of Defense have created a customizable, evidence-based toolkit to increase effective communication and other important teamwork skills in any healthcare setting. This includes a new TeamSTEPPS Teamwork Attitudes Questionnaire, which you can use to determine whether the companion tools and tactics improved staff attitudes toward teamwork, enhanced knowledge about effective team practice, and improved team skills.
  • Minimize unnecessary interruptions. Reduce distractions faced by nursing staff, especially during critical times such as shift changes. Encourage staff to speak up when necessary, but create a "zone of silence" near medication preparation carts and other areas where concentration is essential.

For the entire list of tips and available tools, visit the AHRQ Web site.

Source: AHRQ


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