8 overlooked ways to improve patient safety

The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety presented a list of ways to improve postoperative patient safety and health outcomes at the annual Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses conference earlier this month.

When it comes to patient safety, it's essential for nurses and staff to properly manage and monitor patients receiving opioids, field leaders said.

"Perioperative nurses emphasized to me that they should be the identified patient advocate for safety and ensure all patients receiving opioids are ordered continuous electronic monitoring. Although perioperative pace is hectic and there is tremendous pressure to conduct quick operating room turnover, perioperative nurses can never forget that their commit to the patient does not end following surgery," Lynn Razzano, R.N., who made the presentation, said in an announcement.

The list of tasks includes:

  1. Consistently assess clinical risk factors in the preoperative area, such as identifying opioid-naïve patients.

  2. Individualize all alarm parameters for the patient, double check and continuously use electronic monitoring

  3. Include any assessed patient risks and reassessment of additional factors such as length of surgery and type of anesthesia during the hand-off communication in the postoperative transition from the operating room to the post-anesthesia care unit

  4. Verify nurse-to-nurse that continuous electronic monitoring is used and double-checked

  5. Double check dosing, pump parameters and continuous monitoring settings

  6. Identify any additional time points for patients' risk-factor reassessment in the postoperative orders

  7. Include daily lead changes and handoff communication in the postoperative order to decrease nuisance alarms

  8. Continue electronic monitoring with oximetry and capnography until there's a specific order and a complete patient assessment with no signs of respiratory compromise

A recent survey from the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety found that one in 10 hospitals performed one or fewer double-checks on patient-controlled analgesia pump connection settings to ensure the correct patient was receiving the correct dosage, according to the list.

The survey also found that continuous electronic monitoring reduces adverse events, costs and expenses and 65 percent of the 168 respondents (physicians, nurses and pharmacists) said they've experienced positive results from continuous electronic monitoring. 

To learn more:
- here's the list and survey findings
- read the announcement