Patient Safety, It Is Everyone’s Job Make it an ongoing process in your ASC BY ANN GEIER, RN, CASC

Every time a patient enters a surgery center, they entrust their life to the facility and its staff. A patient right- fully expects that every pre-

caution will be taken to keep them safe while in the center’s care. Strict policies and procedures are in place to ensure that everyone, physicians included, fol- lows patient safety rules Patient safety starts before a patient

walks into a facility and continues through post-surgical care. Pre-admis- sion staff conduct diligent screenings to assess each patient’s overall health, anesthesia and other needs in advance of surgery. On site, ASC employees make sure that walkways and recep- tion areas are fall- and hazard-free. They attend to meticulous details in each surgical visit to ensure commu- nication is open and accurate, practice hand hygiene, distribute and manage medication properly, handle instru- ments safely and so much more. Patient safety also means being

aware. For example, is the patient truly able to get dressed on their own or do they need more time for anesthesia to wear off? Perhaps a patient will require additional assistance throughout their time at the center due to mobility issues noticed by the receptionist upon their arrival. Avoiding mishaps requires everyone’s attention and help, even the patient’s.

Mistakes Still Happen Concern for patient safety is nothing new. Yet, as social media and indus- try news outlets continue to spotlight, patient safety issues still occur. Beyond the potential for a lawsuit and business ramifications from a center’s tarnished reputation, patient safety is paramount because it is the right thing to do. Sur-


gery centers must be dedicated to pro- viding the best possible care. As a whole, ASCs are a tremen-

dously safe environment for patients. Highly regulated by federal and state entities, the safety and quality of care is evaluated by independent observers through three processes: state licen- sure, Medicare certification and vol- untary accreditation. Given that ASCs are smaller than hospitals, it is easy to argue that ASCs are safer. While hos- pitals and ASCs both focus heavily on patient safety, a hospital’s staff is sig- nificantly larger, therefore, increasing the likelihood of errors. The patient- to-nurse ratio is much smaller at an ASC, which makes it easier to mon- itor and manage patients. Even the layout of a center helps contribute to patient safety because nurses’ stations are typically configured to allow mul- tiple nurses to see the patient bay at any given time. Furthermore, because


the stay at an ASC is considerably shorter than at a hospital, the likeli- hood of contracting an infection is much lower at a surgery center.

How to Prevent Errors Despite an ASC’s best efforts, human error can and does happen. There are also, unfortunately, employees who cut corners or ignore procedures. When these things happen, the results can be catastrophic. One instance is one too many. To help ensure ASC staff are doing all they can to deliver a safe sur- gical experience for patients, consider these reminders: ■

Don’t limit patient safety efforts to staff orientation training or a check- list posted on the wall. Ongoing com- munication, thanks for a great job and other reminders about the importance of patient safety should occur period- ically throughout the year.

The advice and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent official Ambulatory Surgery Center Association policy or opinion.

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