2005 national patient safety goals

The following patient safety goals of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, were developed for home health care but may not apply to all areas of home health, says Maryanne L. Popovich, RN, MPH, executive director of the Joint Commission home care accreditation program. To verify which goals apply to your agency, durable medical equipment division, or infusion service, go to www.jcaho.org, click on "2005 National Patient Safety Goals" under "Headline News" on the right side of the page, then choose "Home Care," and then choose "Applicability Grid."

The new goals or requirements for 2005 are listed below in boldface.

Goal: Improve the accuracy of patient identification.

— Use at least two patient identifiers whenever administering medications or blood products, taking blood samples and other specimens for clinical testing, or providing any other treatments or procedures.

— Prior to the start of any surgical or invasive procedure, conduct a final verification process, such as a "time out," to confirm the correct patient, procedure, and site, using active — not passive — communication techniques.

Goal: Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers.

— For verbal or telephone orders or for telephonic reporting of critical test results, verify the complete order or test result by having the person receiving the order or test result read back the complete order or test result.

— Standardize a list of abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols that are not to be used throughout the organization.

Measure, assess, and, if appropriate, take action to improve the timeliness of reporting and the timeliness of receipt by the responsible licensed caregiver of critical test results and values.

— Standardize and limit the number of drug concentrations used by the organization.

Identify, and, at a minimum, annually review a list of look-alike/sound-alike drugs used by the organization, and take action to prevent errors involving the interchange of these drugs.

Goal: Improve the safety of using medications.

— Remove concentrated electrolytes (including, but not limited to, potassium chloride, potassium phosphate, and sodium chloride >0.9%) from patient care areas.

Goal: Improve the safety of using infusion pumps.

— Ensure free-flow protection on all general-use and patient-controlled analgesia intravenous infusion pumps used by the organization.

Goal: Reduce the risk of health care-associated infections.

— Comply with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hand hygiene guidelines.

— Manage as sentinel events all identified cases of unanticipated death or major permanent loss of function associated with a health care-associated infection.

Goal: Accurately and completely reconcile medications across the continuum of care.

Have a process for obtaining and documenting a complete list of the patient’s current medications upon the patient’s entry to the organization and with the involvement of the patient.  

A complete list of the patient’s medications is communicated to the next provider of service when it refers or transfers a patient to another setting, service, practitioner, or level of care within or outside the organization.

Goal: Reduce the risk of patient harm resulting from falls.

Assess and periodically reassess each patient’s risk for falling, including the potential risk associated with the patient’s medication regimen, and take action to address any identified risks.