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Here are the proposed 2005 National Patient Safety Goals for hospitals. The goals differ somewhat from one health care setting to another. For more on the proposed 2005 National Patient Safety Goals, go to www.jcaho.org and select "accredited organizations," then "patient safety."
• Improve the accuracy of patient identification.
The steps include using at least two patient identifiers (not the room number) when administering medications or blood products, and when taking blood samples or other specimens for testing. The goal also would require implementing bar code technology for patient identification no later than Jan. 1, 2007.
• Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers.
This goal would require the person receiving critical test results verbally or by phone to "read back" the results to verify accuracy. Providers also would need to standardize abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols. The goal also requires a process for improving the timeliness of reporting test results.
• Improve the safety of using medications.
Steps include removing concentrated electrolytes from patient care units, as well as standardizing and limiting the number of drug concentrations available. JCAHO also would call for restricting intravenous drug preparation to the pharmacy and identifying a list of lookalike/soundalike drugs.
Infusion and infection
• Improve the safety of using infusion pumps.
Infusion pumps can be made safer by ensuring there is free-flow protection on all general use and patient-controlled devices. An independent double-check also is necessary whenever programming the devices.
• Reduce the risk of health care-acquired infections.
JCAHO would require providers to comply with current guidelines on infection control and to treat as sentinel events any health care-acquired infection that resulted in permanent loss of function or death.
• Accurately and completely reconcile medications and other treatments across the continuum of care.
This goal is intended to ensure that providers document the patient’s medications and treatments and reconcile them with any currently provided medications and treatment. One licensed independent practitioner should be designated to coordinate the patient’s care and field questions from other clinicians.
• Reduce the risk of patient harm resulting from falls.
Strategies include assessing and periodically reassessing each patient’s risk of falling (and including the risk associated with medications), implementing and evaluating a fall-reduction program, modifying the environment to minimize harm from falls, using bed alarms for high-risk patients, using low beds, and avoiding full-length bedrails.
• Reduce the risk of surgical fires.
JCAHO urges providers to educate staff, develop and test procedures for the response of all surgical team members to a fire in the operating room, and to report surgical fires to the appropriate organizations.