High level of sanitation vital to patient safety and to lowering readmissions and morbidity A shocking story published in the Wall Street Journal* last month is enough to make your skin crawl. No, it wasn’t an article about substandard medical practices in remote third-world nations. It was about unsafe injection practices, improper medication preparation and the re-use of single-dose vials and needles right here in the U.S. Just when you thought those days were gone. The article serves as a reminder for healthcare employers and professionals to maintain a high level of hygiene and sanitation in all aspects of practice. Sadly, the thousands of patients who were potentially exposed to Hepatitis B, C, HIV and other serious infectious diseases in the article didn’t have to be. All that was required was for caregivers to acknowledge what one commentary referred to as ‘sterile techniques 101’: Don’t use needles twice, single-dose vials are just that – single dose; and always prepare injection medications in a sterilized environment. Though much has been done at the regulatory level over the past decade to improve safe medical practices in hospitals - outpatient clinics, as indicated the spate of cases [+]

Though ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) present patients with unbridled convenience and investors with margins superior to hospital settings, the rapid growth of ambulatory care centers has revealed some unsettling risks.  The Centers for Disease Control, along with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently evaluated the infection control practices of nearly 70 ASCs across Maryland, North Carolina and Oklahoma. Findings were shocking. More than 20 percent of ASCs surveyed had lapses in proper hand washing and the use of protective gloves. Fifty seven percent were cited for deficiencies in infection control and 30 percent reprimanded for deficiencies related to medication administration, including use of single-dose medications for multiple patients. Of the 68 ASCs surveyed, lapses included: Insufficient cleaning of high touch surfaces in patient care areas Inappropriate handling of equipment used for blood glucose monitoring Failure to adhere to recommended practices regarding reprocessing of surgical equipment Deficiencies related to injection practices Although most states require ASCs to meet various licensing requirements and conduct periodic inspections – not all do - or strictly enforce state requirements, resulting in lapses in quality patient care at under-inspected ASCs. And though nurse pay in Ambulatory Surgery Centers typically falls above the median, according to government statistics, ASCs pay often six to [+]

Quality counts. Nobody knows this better than healthcare staff in America’s best hospitals. Healthcare Employers’ services must clearly reflect patient satisfaction and commitment to their safety, making the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems—known better as the HCAHPS Survey—a vital part of service recovery and maintaining healthcare rankings in what is, today, an increasingly competitive industry. HCAHPS SurveyFor those in healthcare staffing unfamiliar with The HCAHPS Survey (also known as CAHPS® Hospital Survey), it is important to note the endorsement it received, in 2005, from the National Quality Forum (NQF). “Sealing the deal” in terms of a positive reception among virtually all healthcare consumer groups and providers, the HCAHPS Survey is, currently, the only method of assessing patient opinion, making it public, and using that information as incentives to improve most aspects of hospital care. HCAHPS Survey Patient Perspective/Rating Items Healthcare Employers who get involved with HCAHPS is the ideal method to begin putting common complaints in healthcare facilities behind them. This patient satisfaction survey measures a core set of questions in the following categories: Communication with doctors Communication with nurses Responsiveness of hospital staff Pain management Communication about medicines Discharge information Cleanliness of the hospital environment Quietness of the hospital environment Healthcare [+]

A guide for registered nurses in the ER and Staff Nurses Welcome back to our 3 part series on handling patient grievances in different healthcare settings. In previous weeks, we brought you the most common complaints in physicians’ offices and outpatient centers, then sore spots most heard in nursing home facilities, and now this final installment offering constructive responses to some of the most commonly voiced hospital complaints. Because rating systems and well-publicized top provider lists are old hat in the medical community, “report cards” motivate doctors and registered nurses alike to improve nurse patient relationships and patient doctor communication. The general public is more aware than ever, of how one hospital  measures up against another; how ER nurses and staff nurses compare from one medical center to the next, and who to share these experiences with—albeit positive or negative—that inevitably effects a hospital’s bottom line. When it comes to hospital complaints, effective service recovery requires a compassionate ear, smart solutions and, in the best-case scenario, both of these things. Communication is everything; when it’s done right, patients exude trust and confidence, and they are more likely to cooperate with a treatment plan, ideal because its been supplemented by listening intently to what [+]

A registered nurse’s strategy guide for difficult patients Welcome to the second post in our three part series Common Complaints in Healthcare Facilities , where we highlight some of the most common patient “sore spots” in nursing home facilities and show you how to address them with caring professionalism. Whether your nursing home healthcare profession falls under case management jobs, a member of the rehab team, a physician, or you are nurse and patientworking the front lines as a registered nurse or ancillary home health registered nurse, medical experts share the different categories in patient satisfaction. Access: Are your nursing home patients being given access to services without perceiving barriers? Environmental: Is the nursing home immaculate enough to assure the patient feels confident and safe? Service Quality: Are the processes and people delivering services pleasant and efficient? Quality of Care: Do your patients understand and participate in their care? Communication: Are your conversations and written instructions clear and concise? Billing: Are your nursing home patients billed without error and well treated regardless of their financial status? RN jobs depend on maintaining high ratings in all of these areas; an experienced registered nurse understands how to equalize the balance of power in nurse-patient [+]

What to say to mend fences and provide excellent quality of care Complaint management in the healthcare industry is critical to maintaining healthy doctor-patient relationships and nurse-patient relationships; without service recovery, trust and confidence amongst patients and their families is harder earned, and treatment is met with more resistance and slower healing. Satisfied patients make healthcare employers, Case Managers and medical staff breathe easier, smile more and work better as a team. What is Service Recovery? Reassuring a patient by letting them know they are important to you, as well as getting to the bottom of what caused the problem and how to right it, is at the heart of service recovery—which means responding to what ails with not just medicine, but solid assurances and solutions in the fast paced, hectic environment of most physicians practices and physician outpatient centers, hospitals or home health care settings. About this Three Part Series Welcome to the first in a 3 part series of how to rectify patients’ complaints with words that are time-tested by the healthcare experts. We have assimilated information from medical literature, as well as our own healthcare expertise to provide allied professionals, nurses, and doctors [+]

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