Keeping Patients Safe: A Guide

The patient should always be at the forefront of care in order to keep them safe from unnecessary harm. Failure to do so could result in patients acquiring hospital-based infections or spending longer in hospital due to misdiagnosis or wrong treatment. Here is how you, as a healthcare professional, can keep your patients safe.

Hand Hygiene

An important and easy step in reducing the number of infections acquired in hospital is through good hand hygiene. You need to understand when to wash your hands and how to do it effectively. There should be signs all over your ward or department that state the five moments of hand hygiene and the World Health Origination’s guide to effective handwashing. Never wear false nails, keep natural nails short and always be bare past the elbow. A good handwashing technique lasts 30-40 seconds. For those that work in the surgical department, the handwash here should take longer and incorporate a special antiseptic solution.

Waste Management

All staff are responsible for the safe disposable of waste into the correct waste bin or box. Identify which colour waste bags are for soiled linen and which are for dirty linen. Gloves always need to be worn when handling any waste. Ensure sharps are put into a sharps bin straight away and never left near a patient’s bedside as this could lead to a needlestick injury. Needlestick injuries are one of the common causes of medical negligence cases against healthcare associations. For more information on medical negligence, check out www.the-medical-negligence-experts.co.uk.

Identifying Patients

Patient identification is another big safety measure that all healthcare professionals need to adhere to. The patient should always be wearing some form of identification band which tells you their full name, date of birth, hospital number and if they have any allergies. If they do not have one of these, even if they have given consent, you should never give medication or any treatment until they have an identification band on. There are many cases where patients with similar names have been given the wrong treatments or medications, and this could even result in death in severe cases.

Safeguarding

All staff need to be aware of safeguarding policies, and also understand who is most at risk. You should always report anything that you feel is untoward; even if it turns out to be nothing, you know you have kept that patient safe. Address any concerns to your ward manager and the safeguarding team within the hospital, and record all events in the patient’s notes. If a patient discloses anything to you that is a safeguarding concern, you must be honest with them and tell them you must report it, even if this is not what they want. It is your duty to safeguard every patient.

Following local policies and NHS guidelines ensures that every patient you look after is safe. Attending annual training is another way to refresh your knowledge on this. If you fail to keep patients safe, you could cause serious harm, lose your job and even face a jail sentence.