A Focus on Patient Safety - New Mexico VA Health Care System
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New Mexico VA Health Care System

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A Focus on Patient Safety

two nurses examine a simulated patient in a hospital bed

Nurses at the Safety Fair try to determine “what’s wrong with this picture.”

By Bill Armstrong, NMVAHCS Public Affairs Specialist
Friday, August 5, 2016

  When Veterans check into a VA medical center for their appointments, they should not be worried that they may be mistaken for another patient and receive the wrong surgical procedure.  To emphasize the seriousness of that situation, staff at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque recently held a Safety Fair.

  Improving the accuracy of patient identification was just one of several National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) focused on during the three-day fair. The NPSGs were developed by the Joint Commission.  An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

  The Safety Fair was set up in a large conference room.  As visitors entered the room, they moved through a maze of table displays, each one focused on a specific safety goal.

  “With these exhibits, we’re saying to everyone, ‘This is what we’re doing. Can you join us?’ We’re looking at how following the NPSG impacts nursing care,” said Reba Brane, Patient Safety Manager for the New Mexico VA Health Care System (NMVAHCS).

  The Safety Fair also included a “Room of Horrors” in one corner of the conference room. This turned out to be the most popular attraction of the fair. The exhibit was set up by Toni Gresham and Deb Pappler, NMVAHCS Nurse Educators.  A simulated patient was dressed in a hospital gown and laid on a hospital room bed. There were several things wrong with the way the “patient” was set up in his bed, and the intent was for those visiting the display to identify the safety violations. The rules of the game were that anyone who could name 30 errors would be entered in a drawing for a Grand Prize:  a gift card to a local restaurant.  When the fair came to a close, a total of 60 employees had identified 25 or more hazards, while 20 had spotted 30 or more.

  Even though the Safety Fair ended, the focus on NPSGs has not.  Veteran patients are encouraged to get involved, and become part of VA’s goal of keeping safety at the forefront of daily care.  Patients and their family members can help achieve this goal if they:
• Stop and learn the facts about your condition and your medications.
• Listen carefully to your care plan so that we all fully understand and concur on its course.
• Listen closely to what you'll need to do to continue your care plan at home.
Learn more about patient safety here:  http://www.patientsafety.va.gov/veterans/index.asp.


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