HealthJuly 22, 2016

National patient safety goals for hospitals

Learn the latest on The Joint Commission's  standards for safety.

Improving safety is always a top priority for hospitals and their employees – especially in the era of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and considerable federal reimbursement hanging in the balance. In 2002, The Joint Commission established its National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) program to recommend ways to improve patient safety. The NPSGs were established to help accredited organizations address specific areas of patient safety concern and focus on solutions to health care safety problems. The first set of NPSG guidelines were officially introduced January 1, 2003.

Development of the goals

A panel of patient safety experts—composed of nurses, physicians, pharmacists, risk managers, clinical engineers, and other professionals who have hands-on experience with patient safety issues in a variety of health care settings—helped develop the NPSGs.

The Patient Safety Advisory Group panel worked with Joint Commission staff to identify emerging patient safety issues, and advise on how to address those issues in NPSGs, sentinel event alerts, standards and survey processes, performance measures, educational materials, and Center for Transforming Healthcare projects.

After getting input from additional practitioners, provider organizations, purchasers, consumer groups and other stakeholders, The Joint Commission determined the highest priority patient safety issues and how best to address them. Below are the seven key recommendations of the NPSG.

  1. Improve the accuracy of patient identification. Use at least two patient identifiers when providing care, treatment, and services. Make sure that the correct patient gets the correct blood when they get a blood transfusion.
  2. Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers. Report critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures to the right staff person on a timely basis.
  3. Improve the safety of using medications. Label all medications, medication containers, and other solutions on and off the sterile field in perioperative and other settings. Record the correct information about each patient’s medicines. Compare those medicines to new medicines given to the patient. Make sure the patient knows which medicines to take when they are at home.
  4. Reduce the harm associated with clinical alarm systems. Make improvements to ensure that alarms on medical equipment are heard and responded to on time.
  5. Reduce the risk of health care–associated infections. Use the hand cleaning guidelines from the CDC, and set goals for improving hand cleaning.
  6. Identify safety risks inherent in the patient population. Find out which patients are most likely to try to commit suicide.
  7. Conduct a preprocedure verification process. Make sure that the correct surgery is done on the correct patient and at the correct place on the patient’s body. Mark the correct place on the patient’s body where the surgery is to be done. Pause before the surgery to make sure that a mistake is not being made.

Changes in 2016

For 2016, no new National Patient Safety Goals have been added. However, elements of performance of NPSG.06.01.01, which deals with alarm safety,  (3. establish policies and procedures for managing the alarms identified and 4. educate staff and licensed independent practitioners about alarm systems) were made effective as of January 1, 2016 for the hospital and critical access hospital accreditation programs.

According to an article in the May 2016 issue of Nursing 2016, research has shown that from 72% to 99% of clinical alarms are false, which can contribute to alarm fatigue. Alarm fatigue, sensory overload caused by exposure to an excessive number of alarms, can result in desensitization or missed alarms.

The 2016 NPSG requirements aim to mitigate risks and focus on proper alarm management and staff education on the appropriate use and purpose of the alarms.  Click here to read the entire outline of the Joint Commission's NPSG.

Is your facility concerned with maintaining compliance with federal regulations and guidelines?  Click HERE to learn more about the online e-courses in Lippincott Professional Development Collection that we developed in partnership with Joint Commission Resources (JCR) that will help promote Patient Safety and Compliance and support Disease-Specific Care Certification in Heart Failure and Stroke.

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