Patient Safety Week 2023
Each year, Patient Safety Awareness Week (PSAW) is recognized to remind healthcare staff of the importance of promoting patient safety practices. Whether you’re a Nurse, Certified Nursing Assistant, or another type of healthcare professional, the steps you take daily can go a long way in keeping your patients safe.
From preventing choking hazards to simple fire prevention techniques, check out these five preventative measures you can implement to keep your patients safer.
Elderly patients or patients in hospice are at an increased risk of falls, which can be caused by age-related loss of muscle mass, balance problems, cluttered environments, and so much more. While you’re likely already familiar with general fall risk precautions, one easy tip that is often forgotten is to ensure that a patient’s living area is adequately lit. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls are usually caused by a combination of risk factors. The fewer risk factors a person has, the less their risk for falls is. As a healthcare professional, consider these ways to help encourage fall prevention for your patients:
- Use plug-in nightlights around the room, bathroom, or hallway areas.
- Place lamps within reach of the bed.
- Store flashlights around the room in the event of a power outage.
- Make sure all lamps have working light bulbs.
Another vital part of keeping your patients safe is understanding oxygen safety and fire prevention techniques. Remind your patients on oxygen that oxygen is extremely flammable. Therefore, provide patient education and remind patients of the dangers of smoking near an oxygen tank. Furthermore, all patients who smoke should be made aware of the designated smoking areas around your healthcare facility.
For home care patients, healthcare professionals can also help support fire prevention by helping their patients perform regular smoke detector tests or replace batteries.
Another easy way to keep your patient safe is to follow proper eating protocols to prevent choking. Bed-ridden patients may wish to eat lying down. However, this poses a serious choking hazard. Before feeding a patient or giving them a meal, ensure they sit upright. After eating, patients should remain upright for at least 30 minutes to prevent aspiration. Any patient that has difficulty swallowing should take small bites with sips of liquids in between.
Most healthcare professionals already know that frequent repositioning is an important step to prevent bed sores. However, adequate nutrition is another essential component to help reduce the risk of bed sores. Research studies suggest a clear correlation between nutritional deficiencies and an increased risk for pressure ulcers. Healthcare professionals and dietary department workers should pay close attention to their patients’ diets, helping to ensure they have a well-rounded diet with nutrient-dense foods. For patients with poor appetite, supplemental nutrition may be needed to help obtain proper nutrition and prevent bed sores.
When it comes time to transport a patient, healthcare professionals have many things to remember. Especially for patients who need help to ambulate several times throughout the day, it can be easy for healthcare professionals to forget the most important safety precautions for safe ambulation. As you prepare a patient for transport, ensure that they have the proper footwear to prevent falls. Standard socks are not proper footwear. Instead, patients should have non-slip shoes or socks on. Taking an extra moment to ensure your patient has adequate footwear is a simple and effective way to ensure they are safely transported.
Patient safety is our utmost priority. To support this year’s Patient Safety Week, try implementing these five simple ways to keep your patients safe. Whether you see patients in a home setting or an assisted living facility, these tips can help reduce fall risk, prevent bed sores, eliminate choking hazards, and reduce fire hazards.