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Safety Initiatives

The Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) Patient Safety Program not only improves your safety, but it also improves the safety of visitors, volunteers and hospital and medical staff.

LMH follows evidence-based recommendations for patient safety from national quality agencies. These include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the LeapFrog Group, the National Quality Forum, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Patient Safety Foundation. Our Organizational Quality Improvement Council (OQIC) and our Medical Staff Quality Improvement Committee (MSQIC) oversee our patient safety program. Both committees report regularly to the Quality Committee of the LMH Board of Trustees.

Learn more about our patient safety initiatives and get tips on what you can do as a patient to increase safety:

Health Care-Associated Infection

There are many types of health care-associated infections (HAIs). The most common include urinary tract infection, bloodstream infection, surgical site infection and ventilator-associated pneumonia. Infections can be spread by the hands (by touching things), through the air (when you cough or sneeze), or through contact with blood or body fluids.

At LMH, we protect our patients by following stringent infection control guidelines. Compared to national data collected by the Centers for Disease Control, LMH has extremely low HAI rates. Low scores indicate a high level of quality of care.

How to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections
Take these important steps to reduce your chance of getting an Health care-Associated Infection:

  • Wash your hands before touching or eating food, and after you use the bathroom.
  • If you do not see your caregivers wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before they take care of you, do not be afraid to ask them if they’ve cleaned their hands.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If you do not have one, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.

Learn more about avoiding infections in the hospital.

Hand Hygiene

Proper hand hygiene is the number one way to prevent the spread of infection. At LMH, we collect data on how often and how well our physicians and staff clean their hands as required. Using either hand sanitizer or soap and water, they must clean their hands before and after touching food or medications, examining you, and inserting an IV or other medical device. Staff is also required to wash their hands before and after changing dressings, handling something that contains body fluids (for example, bed pans or specimen cups), and after using the bathroom or whenever their hands are dirty.

LMH collects this data by observing staff members and physicians as well as by measuring the amount of hand hygiene products used on each unit. We excel in hand hygiene as demonstrated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) comparative benchmarks.

Prevent the Spread of Germs with Hand Hygiene
To reduce your risk for infection, follow these hand hygiene tips:

  • Wash your hands frequently. It is always a good idea.
  • Use the waterless hand cleaner that is located throughout the hospital.
  • Wash your hands before touching or eating food, and after you use the bathroom.
  • If you do not see your caregivers wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before they take care of you, do not be afraid to ask them if they’ve cleaned their hands.

Bloodstream Infections

A bloodstream infection can occur when a patient has a “central line” or “central catheter.” A catheter is a tube placed in the vein to draw blood or give fluids or medication. At LMH, our bloodstream infection rate is zero, far exceeding national Centers for Disease Control benchmarks. One of the reasons we excel is because of our dedicated IV therapy team. This team is highly trained to insert and remove IVs, clean IV sites, change IV dressings, and check the sites for any signs of infection.

Prevent Bloodstream Infections
To help prevent a bloodstream infection during your hospital stay:

  • Make sure your health care workers wash their hands before inserting or removing your IV and before touching your IV site.
  • If your IV site is sore, or looks red or swollen, notify a caregiver immediately.
  • Use good hygiene when you handle your own IV site.

Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia

Patients who are on a ventilator (breathing machine) for more than 48 hours are at risk for Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). LMH follows nationally-recognized guidelines to prevent VAP. These include raising the head of the bed to an angle between 30 and 45 degrees. We also check patients regularly to make sure a ventilator is still required, and give medications to prevent stomach ulcers and blood clots. Our VAP rates are significantly less than Centers for Disease Control benchmark rates.

Surgical Site Infections

Surgical site infections are the second most common type of adverse events occurring in hospitalized patients. Nationally, surgical site infections happen to about three out of 100 patients who have surgery. At LMH, our staff members practice nationally accepted guidelines to significantly reduce the incidence of surgical site infections. These recommendations include proper use of antibiotics, appropriate hair removal at the surgical site, and specific postoperative care procedures.

Safety Tips for Surgery
To reduce your risk for a surgical site infection and improve your overall safety during or following surgery:

  • Meet with your surgeon prior to surgery. Discuss medications, allergies and other medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood sugar. Talk about ways to lower your risk of getting an infection.
  • Ask your doctor if a shower with special soap before your surgery could decrease your risk of infection.
  • Do not shave the area where you are having surgery. If it is an area that will require hair to be removed, shaving must be done immediately before surgery to decrease the chance of skin infection.
  • Tell the anesthesiologist (doctor or nurse who puts you to sleep for surgery) if you or a family member has had problems with anesthesia before. Also tell your anesthesiologist about your medications, any allergies you may have, and if you have diabetes or high blood sugar.
  • Tell your nurse if you suspect you are allergic to latex.
  • Tell your nurse if you have sleep apnea or trouble sleeping.
  • Keep warm to prevent infection. Ask for blankets or whatever else you may need to stay warm while you wait for surgery and during recovery.
  • Ask if you will get an antibiotic.

Fall Prevention

Sometimes, due to illness, injury or age, hospital patients are unsteady on their feet. Simply being alone in an unknown place and on medication put you at risk for a fall.  Fortunately, most falls can be prevented when patients follow safety instructions.

At LMH, we follow a comprehensive fall prevention plan to reduce fall rates.  This proactive plan includes maintaining a high nurse-to-patient ratio, lowering the bed rails for easy patient access in and out of bed, securing the call button so patients can reach it, keeping the path to the bathroom clear, cleaning up spills as soon as they happen, and helping patients walk, if needed.

Fall Prevention Tips
There are things you can do while in the hospital to prevent falls:

  • Bring a pair of slippers with rubber soles, or other non-skid surface, to the hospital with you (or ask a family member to bring these to you). Wear these slippers when getting out of bed.
  • If your caregivers tell you to ask for help before getting out of bed, don’t try to get up by yourself. Even when you feel you are strong enough, call for help to be sure you have an extra hand to steady yourself.
  • Keep your cane, crutches or walker within easy reach of the bed.
  • If you need help walking, push your call button as soon as you feel you need to go to the bathroom - don’t wait. Your caregivers need time to reach your room. Do not attempt to get out of bed without assistance.

Preventing Medication Errors

To help us reduce your risk for medication errors or adverse drug events while in the hospital:

  • Bring your medications or a list of your current medications with you and tell the hospital staff. Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or nurse if you’re not sure why you’ve been given a medication.
    Make sure your caregivers check your identification wristband and ask your name and date of birth before giving you your medication.
  • Don't be afraid to tell a caregiver if you don’t recognize your pills or think you are being given the wrong medication.
  • If you don't feel well after taking a medication, tell your nurse immediately.

References
1. Joint Commission Resources: Speak Up Initiatives.
2. Institute for Healthcare Improvement: Implement the Ventilator Bundle.