Are There Ways to Further Improve Health Care Safety?

Health care facilities are often considered high-risk environments for both the patients and carers.

Billions of dollars are being invested each year to improve patient safety. Back then the emphasis was on improving the carer’s skills and the specific health care techniques. But recently, more emphasis is being placed on improving the facility design.

Effect of environment on health care

It’s true that our immediate environment affects us more than we realise. It’s also true that our environment also affects our workflow and safety levels.

For instance, one way to further improve safety in the health care facility is by adopting a patient-centred approach. The design, layout and flow of the facility should revolve around the needs of the patient. Here are some recommendations on how to accomplish that:

  • Minimising patient transfers from one room to the next (e.g. from ward to examination rooms)
  • Creating a family environment in the facility (e.g. ensuring enough space for visiting family members)
  • Making more use of natural lighting (e.g. larger windows, windows and rooms orient to sunlight)
  • Minimising noise levels in patient rooms
  • Allowing easier access to health care information (e.g. patients and family members should have quick access to relevant information)

Aside from improving safety levels in the health care environment, these also help in improving the experience of both the patients and their family members. This could be crucial in successful patient recovery. Whether it’s acute or long-term care, patients and family members will spend significant time in the facility. It’s good to make it a great and smooth experience for them.

Other ways to further improve health care safety

Aside from improving the overall environment, here are other ways to improve safety levels in the health care facility:

  • Use surfaces, healthcare seating and beds that can be easily cleaned and decontaminated
  • Make movement much easier for both the carer and the patient (especially for palliative and aged care)
  • Make hand washing a default behaviour by installing hand washing stations and ensuring the necessary supplies are always available
  • Minimise fatigue (so the health care staff will have more physical and mental energies to attend to the needs of the patients)

To summarise, it’s about adopting a human-first approach. Pay special attention to the needs both of the patients and the carers. Then, the design of the environment (including which supplies should be placed in it) will follow based on those needs. This is more about improving patient recovery. This is also about making the overall experience smoother for the carers, patients and their family members.

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