NHCL focuses on patient safety

7 Mar 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

Your spouse is sick, the only place open at 2 a.m. is the hospital. You get evaluated and receive medication, but the sickness only gets worse. Thousands of hospital patients worldwide are given the wrong medications or have records misplaced every year, but during National Patient Safety Week, the Naval Hospital aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is doing its part to prevent any mishaps.

NPSW began with the formation of National Patient Safety Organization in 1997 whose main goal is to improve the safety of care provided to patients.

The concept behind NPSW is to prevent avoidable harm and mistakes. Having systems fail such as communication or records management can cause wrong medications to be distributed, but it is preventable, stated Lindy Eatherington, the Patient Safety Manager at NHCL.

“There is a process of validation for a patient’s full name and date of birth to ensure we have the correct chart, health records and the right labs to certify the correct test results end up with the proper patient,” said Eatherington. “NPSW is designed to raise the awareness not only for our patients, but our staff. Our goal is to have our patients involved in their care, so they understand what their health care provider is telling them and to make sure they ask questions.”

The National Patient Safety Foundation has an ‘Ask me 3’ program in place to encourage patients’ involvement in their healthcare. Patients should communicate with their provider and be clear as to what their main concern is, what they need to do, and why it’s important to follow through with the doctor’s course of action.

Physical systems, such as electronic record keeping, were set up to alleviate communication problems, added Eatherington.

“Sometimes portions of records need to be seen by different sections in the hospital, and the systems created help it greatly,” said Eatherington. “If a mother has a baby and pediatrics needs to see something on the mother’s record, the information is easily accessible with the systems established.”

Eatherington stated individuals as well as family members need to advocate for themselves when it comes to medical attention.

“They need to ask questions, they need to get involved,” said Eatherington. “If a family member needs to come to an appointment to help understand what happened or if a family member can help with the discharge process, it’s a great thing.”

Medical exams and appointments may seem monotonous to service members, but with National Patient Safety Week the process behind keeping patients and health care providers educated is a yearly renewal.