All I Want for Christmas Is… Safety

Safety in Healthcare

by Mary Jagim RN, MSN, CEN, FAEN | CNO at Infinite Leap

As an Emergency Nurse of more than 25 years, I find myself a bit frustrated that my one wish for the healthcare environment remains largely unanswered. My wish?…That everyone involved in the healthcare process, patients, their families and the care providers, have a safe environment in which to either receive, or deliver care.

This means so much to me that even in my consulting work at Infinite Leap, I look for every possible way to make my wish come true. I believe that the work we are doing with Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS), can make a huge difference, and I’d like to share with you why:

Staff Duress
The Center for Personal Protection and Safety reports that healthcare professionals are 16 times more likely to be attacked on the job than any other service professional Some alternative suggested wording: None of us choosing a career in healthcare go into it expecting to be assaulted verbally or physically. Yet, many of us, myself included, can testify to being assaulted on the job. Such an environment threatens the safety of staff and patients. It also increases staff turnover and burnout. The use of an RTLS system offers a superior solution by which all healthcare staff are able to alert security of a duress event and receive rapid assistance. This location-enabled tool can serve as an enhancement to existing hardwired safety and security systems and reduce costs associated with on-the-job injuries. When staff can request help using their personal ID Badge, from WHEREVER they are and know that assistance can respond to their EXACT location, we can be confident that the disastrous outcome of some of these dangerous events will be reduced. That would go a long way to satisfying my wish for my colleagues.

Emergency Response
Mass casualty events can easily overwhelm an emergency department. Arriving patients are triaged and placed into severity categories and are then moved to appropriate holding areas. During this process, things can get very confusing for everyone and patients can become difficult to locate. RTLS solutions can provide a cost-effective tool for use in emergency preparedness situations when used to identify the entry and exit of patients from specific areas as well as, locate staff. A solution like this makes a really horrible time a little bit easier for everyone, as I can’t imagine anything worse than a family member trying to find someone involved in a mass casualty event and not being able to do so because no one knows where they are.

Infectious Exposure
Outbreaks of infectious diseases can be terrifying and in certain cases even life-threatening to patients, their families, and staff. Being able to quickly identify how people and equipment have interacted with the infected individual is critical to providing timely preventative treatment and limiting the opportunity for future exposure events. It’s mind boggling to think that just “knowing” where someone or something has been can make such a difference in the delivery of care and keeping people safe.

I do understand the realities of healthcare and that financial constraints make solutions like this sometimes difficult to consider. I realize that “wishing” alone won’t solve the issue. However, all of us in healthcare entered the profession because we wanted to help people in times of need. Systems like these provide benefits that far outweigh the financial cost of implementation and allow both the staff and our patients the opportunity to function in a safe and caring environment. So I’m going to continue to wish, and more importantly continue to work at spreading the message that the use of real-time systems are really important in healthcare, and that the most simple and affordable of solutions can improve safety across the board and ultimately save lives.

Wishing you all Safety and Prosperity in 2018.