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Beds, Socks, Time-Outs: Such Simple Ways To Avoid Hospital Harm

Big hospitals can seem like impossibly complex organisms, but how simple some of these patient-safety improvements are! From Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center:

BOSTON – Reducing preventable harm in hospitals often starts with small, low-tech steps: brushing the teeth of patients on ventilators; using low-rise beds and socks with safety treads on both sides; completing a surgical time out before mounting a blade on a scalpel.

Those small steps have yielded big results at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center – from a 90 percent reduction in ventilator-associated pneumonia since 2006, to progress in reducing patient falls with injury and in helping to avoid wrong site surgeries. They are some of the key lessons learned and implemented after the hospital declared the then “audacious goal” to eliminate preventable patient harm by 2012.

Those safety steps may seem obvious now, but of course, hindsight is always easy. Yes, “after the fact, it seems obvious,” said Dr. Kenneth Sands, the hospital’s senior vice president for health care quality, but “you need to have that ‘Aha’ moment.” Consider luggage, he said; he spent years lugging around bags because no one had thought to put wheels on them. “The good news is that some of these things are very simple and not technological,” he said, “but they are sometimes only obvious in retrospect.”

More from the hospital:

BIDMC has posted a video on its public website that chronicle three stories that represent how the issue is being addressed:

Preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia
Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a problem that can affect between 10 to 20 percent of intensive care patients who need assistance breathing. Bacteria can collect in the breathing tube and work its way into a patient’s lung and contracting VAP can double a patient’s risk of dying. Continue reading