As respiratory therapists, patient safety must always be top of mind as we care for our patients at the bedside, but there is a lot RTs can do to promote patient safety within their institutions as well.
With Patient Safety Awareness Week going on this week, now is the perfect time for all of us to revisit the topic and brainstorm ways we can get more involved.
As co-chair of the AARC’s Patient Safety Roundtable, I hear discussions all the time related to patient safety, and as the patient safety officer at my hospital I’m intimately involved in a number of initiatives aimed at keeping our patients safe from harm.
Here are five great ways I think RTs everywhere could get more involved on the institutional level:
- Volunteer to serve on your hospital’s safety committees. Most facilities have committees on patient safety, medication safety, and hospital safety, so there’s lots of potential for involvement.
- Lead the charge to improve monitoring of patients’ respiratory status when receiving sedation medications such as opioids, PCA pumps, and conscious sedation.
- Report near-misses, close-calls, and adverse events to your risk management or patient safety leaders and help to create safer processes.
- Provide input into patient safety activities that impact patients receiving respiratory care related services to create better processes that take into consideration human factors that may lead to errors.
- Volunteer to be your department’s Safety Champion.
Tools to Help You With Your Patient Safety Efforts
The AARC has some great tools we can all use to help our hospitals in their mission to ensure safe care, including three Patient Safety Checklists. Oxygenation Monitoring During In-Hospital Transport for Neonates and Infants and Oxygenation Monitoring During In-Hospital Transport for Pediatrics and Adults spell out the steps to take to keep patients breathing easy during trips from their hospital rooms to testing areas. Our Adult Risk Assessment Checklist for ICU Readmissions outlines the risk factors involved in an impending readmission to the ICU.
The Association represents our interests to outside groups and organizations related to patient safety as well, and hosts regular sleep-related educational programs housed online in the AARC University and at the AARC Congress.
But the Patient Safety Roundtable is, of course, the place to go to network with your fellow AARC members on safety issues. So click on the link and sign up today! The more members we have in this important forum, the better we’ll be able to learn from one another about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to ensuring our patients are receiving the safest care possible.
Kevin McQueen is co-chair of the AARC’s Patient Safety Roundtable. He currently serves as director of safety/environment of care and the patient safety officer at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, CA.