Safety fair showcases patient care projects at Rice Hospital
WILLMAR -- When pathology specimens arrived in the Rice Memorial Hospital laboratory, they were always labeled by hand. But there was a constant risk of errors creeping into the labeling process, said Karen Samuelson, laboratory operations manage...
WILLMAR - When pathology specimens arrived in the Rice Memorial Hospital laboratory, they were always labeled by hand.
But there was a constant risk of errors creeping into the labeling process, said Karen Samuelson, laboratory operations manager.
“We knew we needed to do a better job,” she said.
Over the past few years the lab began implementing several improvements: bar coding, a distraction-free zone to reduce noise and interruptions while specimens are transferred and labeled, and a one-at-a-time method instead of batching to manage specimens.
In 2010, at the beginning of the project, there were 17 errors in the specimen lab, Samuelson said. By 2014, the number of errors in this section of the lab had fallen to three.
“It’s definitely shown improvement,” she said.
The laboratory’s safety initiatives were among a dozen projects showcased Thursday at Rice Hospital’s annual quality and safety fair.
It was a chance for hospital staff and even a few members of the public to browse displays on everything from a new rehabilitation program for cancer patients and survivors to a recently launched task force on preventing violence against hospital workers.
“It’s a great opportunity for staff to celebrate the improvements they’ve made and for staff to see what’s going on with their co-workers,” said Teri Beyer, chief quality officer.
Some of the projects were completed this past year while others are ongoing, she said.
Rice has held the annual fair almost every year for the past decade or so. The event highlights the continual efforts taking place, often behind the scenes, to make hospital care better and safer.
“We’re never satisfied with good enough,” Beyer said. “We want to always try to do better, whether it’s improving care or improving services. We compare ourselves continually, trying to improve and be able to show that.”
Some of the projects highlighted Thursday reflect statewide priorities in patient safety - for example, reducing the risk that critical lab samples will be lost.
Others addressed local needs.
Starting last summer, the emergency department began analyzing patient volume to see where the peaks were and create a plan to adjust emergency room staffing up or down more quickly.
Rice Hospice spent several months on a complete makeover of its information packet for newly admitted hospice patients, revamping it into something more streamlined, attractive and easy to use.
And some projects have the potential to improve patient care beyond Rice Hospital.
Concerned about falls among their patients, the hemodialysis department decided to collect information on how often patients fell and what may have led to these falls. The staff learned that loss of core strength was the leading reason for falls among hemodialysis patients and also was a reliable predictor of which patients were most likely to fall.
In response, the department created a DVD of exercises tailored to hemodialysis patients. After 12 weeks of the exercise program, 90 percent of participating patients saw improvement in their core strength, said Claire Taylor-Schiller, a registered nurse in the Rice hemodialysis department.
“The difference was statistically significant,” she said.
The project is capturing some national attention. Dr. Eric Haugen, a nephrologist with Affiliated Community Medical Centers and one of the project leaders, presented it at a national conference this past month and is slated to give another presentation to the National Kidney Foundation in March.
Falls and fall-related injuries are a leading cause of hospitalization for people who are on dialysis, Taylor-Schiller said. Injuries and fear of falling can lead to increased isolation among these patients, increase their risk of depression and put them at risk of entering a nursing home.
“If we can improve that in some way, the burden and cost to the patient would fall significantly,” she said.