The Joint Commission has developed two new resources to help healthcare providers in their efforts to reduce patient readmissions and improve the discharge process. The resources are a new Speak Up campaign for providers and organizations to educate patients, including an infographic, animated video, and podcast; and a Quick Safety newsletter for healthcare professionals that includes suggested actions for improving transitions. (The Speak Up campaign is online at http://tinyurl.com/j6bxdkw, and the Quick Safety newsletter is online at http://tinyurl.com/z6ys4yb.)
The importance of transitions in improving patient safety is illustrated by The Joint Commission’s sentinel event data compiled from January 2014 to October 2015. The data show a total of 197 sentinel events — from suicide to falls to wrong-site surgery — and the root causes included failures in patient communication (127 incidents), patient education (26 incidents), and patient rights (44 incidents). The majority of the patient education failures were related to not assessing the effectiveness of patient education or not providing education. The patient rights failures included absent or incomplete informed consent, and lack of the patient’s participation in their care.
The new public service campaign, “Speak Up: Avoid a Return Trip to the Hospital,” uses easy-to-understand language to help patients understand the steps they should take after they are discharged to avoid returning to the hospital. The materials are free and available on The Joint Commission’s website. They were developed so that healthcare organizations and providers can easily display and distribute them to patients and caregivers in their facilities, online, and in printed materials.
The pre-discharge information in Speak Up includes facts patients need to know about their treatment and diagnosis, medication, follow-up care, and information on where and how to get help if they need it. The post-discharge recommendations explain to patients the steps they may go through depending on their condition and the location they are discharged to. The infographic includes tips and bulleted lists describing the different settings where a patient might receive care following discharge including a doctor visit, home care, community services, therapy, hospice, and a nursing care center.
The Quick Safety newsletter, “Transitions of Care: Engaging Patients and Families,” focuses on ways to improve transitions and involve patients and their families in the process. The publication includes suggested actions to consider for positively affecting patient transitions, such as organizational policies that enable families to visit around the clock, conducting physician and interdisciplinary rounds at the patient’s bedside, having nurses give their change of shift report at the patient’s bedside, patient-centered discharge planning, and EHRs that patients can access and edit.