Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Joint Commission's Safety Guide

The Joint Commission released their monograph “Improving Patient and Worker Safety: Opportunities for Synergy, Collaboration, and Innovation” to draw attention to the need to create a culture that focuses on both the safety of patients and healthcare workers. The document describes barriers that exist to patient and worker safety issues and suggests strategies to use to overcome the barriers.

Intermountain Healthcare (IH) located in Salt Lake City presents a case study in the monograph based on the success of their “Safe Patient Handling” program and how their team created a system-wide safe patient handling program to prevent injuries related to transfers, lifting, and falls.

The IH team found that it was necessary to;

·        Implement a cultural change with the focus on the right mix of people and equipment
·        Establish lift and transfer standards for patient-care practices
·        Standardize employee education and training
·        Evaluate and recommend appropriate equipment for transfer and lifting tasks

It was found that safety assessments must be completed daily. One of the solutions is to use wall signs posted at the head of the patient’s bed and in staff rooms to provide visual safety reminders that depict the scoring process. In addition, charting forms were incorporated into the medical records for seamless documentation.

Staff education includes both hands-on-classes as well as computer-based training for new equipment, policies, assessment tools, and skills pass-off checklists. Patients also receive fact sheets with information on needed safety measures. Electronic reports for program analysis are available at the departmental, campus, regional, and system level.

By 2010, IH saw a 41 percent reduction in employee injuries compared to pre-system rates and a 49 percent reduction in patient falls related to lifting and transferring activities. The estimated cost savings for employee injuries system-wide is $500,000 per year across the 22 IH hospitals

Examples of other case studies on patient and worker safety included in the monograph were described by Ascension Health, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Atlantic Health, Duke Home Care, Kaiser Permanente Mid Atlantic Region, Lancaster General Hospital, Lemuel Shattuck Hospital University of Missouri, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The monograph was developed in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), National Occupational Research Agenda, and the Healthcare and Social Assistance Sector Council under a contract.

For more information, go to