ED Accreditation Update

Patient involvement, education can help

Involving the patient in their own care, an important component of the National Patient Safety Goals for several years, including 2009, also can be a big help for EDs looking to control hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), says Christopher Beach, MD, vice chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Evanston, IL. So can education, he adds.

"The ED is a difficult place to address preventive care, because our focus is on emergent conditions," Beach notes. "As medicine involves patient more and more, the public health education in the news media can help them be more engaged in their health care."

However, "the institution needs to make efforts to educate patients on various types of infection control processes," adds Peter Angood, vice president and chief patient safety officer for The Joint Commission.

Beach agrees. "We actually have a patient advocacy group through the ED where we meet with real patients twice a year, listen to them, hear what they have to say, and try to address their issues and improve our interactions with them," he says. Fliers posted in the department inform patients of the availability of these patient advocates. "The advocates go and speak with patients in the waiting room and the ED, and they address the patients' concerns and questions," says Beach.