The National Patient Safety Foundation’s Patient Safety Awareness Week kicked off Sunday, March 12th and is a week dedicated to not only raising awareness about patient safety, but also recognizing the efforts of healthcare professionals to keep patients safe.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) placed a spotlight on the issue of medical errors— and the related patient safety concerns— more than 15 years ago. While significant advances have been made, there is still work to be done since even one error is one error too many.
Placing additional focus on the issue, the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) brought together an expert panel in February 2015 and laid out a plan for the next 15 years with eight key recommendations:
- Ensure that leaders establish and sustain a safety culture
- Create centralized and coordinated oversight of patient safety
- Create a common set of safety metrics that reflect meaningful outcomes
- Increase funding for research in patient safety and implementation science
- Address safety across the entire care continuum
- Support the health care workforce
- Partner with patients and families for the safest care
- Ensure that technology is safe and optimized to improve patient safety
“Patient flow is inextricably linked to patient safety and can help positively impact those recommendations. Because patient flow is the systematic set of processes involved in attending to patients and moving them through their episodes of care, poor patient flow leads to delays in care, chaotic systems, poor visibility and communication across care teams, and ultimately patient harm,” says Nanne Finis, TeleTracking’s Vice President of Advisory Services and NPSF Patient Safety Coalition Member.
Research done by the Advisory Board shows the average patient experiences 24 hand-offs during an inpatient hospital stay.[ii] Every hand-off represents another opportunity for loss of information, delays, miscommunication, and other actions that can potentially harm patients.
This is where safety and efficient patient flow intersect—and when these things aren’t working synergistically, and patients have to wait, problems can occur. Here’s what the impact looks like:
- ED boarding correlates to 37,000 deaths annually—making the argument that “waiting” is one of the top 15 causes of death in the United States.
- ED boarding for 6+ hours has been correlated to a 1.7% increase in mortality rate and an additional 1.5 days length of stay per case.
- One academic study suggests that reducing the average boarding
time in the ED from six hours to four hours across the US could create the capacity to help 9.7 million more patients per year in urban EDs with a potential of $12 billion in additional revenue[v] per year.[vi]
- Care inefficiencies creates 20 million unnecessary patient days, crowding out the capacity to serve an additional 3 to 5 million patients.
- 9 million patients leave without being seen each year—while at the same time, 39% of all hospital beds are typically unoccupied.
However, when patient care is coordinated—when they are receiving the right care, at the right place, at the right time—patient safety improves because the patient has access to the most appropriate clinical resources, is surrounded by the right equipment, has ready access to medications, and has easy access to the most appropriate diagnostics. That also means these patients have a better chance for a positive outcome. And it also means that when patients are moving through the system efficiently, other patients are able to enter the system and get the care they need.
Visit the National Patient Safety Foundation website to learn even more about their mission of partnering with patients and families, the health care community, and key stakeholders to advance patient safety and health care workforce safety and disseminate strategies to prevent harm.
You can also learn more about TeleTracking’s value-based care strategy to help improve the patient experience—and reduce waiting—in our new webinar series, Value Based Trilogy—Care, Work and Technology.
And be sure to download our latest podcast!
[ii] Mayes, M. (2015) “Fixing Patient Flow: Who Owns It, and Where to Look for Help” The Advisory Board. Available: https://www.advisory.com/research/health-care-advisory-board/blogs/at-the-helm/2015/12/sw-who-owns-patient-flow.
[v] Based on the AHA’s report of 3,071 urban community hospitals in the US as of 2016. The numbers cited do not take into account the 1,855 rural community hospitals because the study cited was conducted in an urban community hospital.
[vi] Falvo, T., Grove, L., Stachura, R., Vega, D., Stike, R., Schlenker, M., & Zirkin, W. (2007). The opportunity loss of boarding admitted patients in the emergency department. Academic Emergency Medicine, 14(4), 332-337.