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Changes hospitals can make to keep us all safer

Shutterstock | Alex Goeschl
Shutterstock | Alex Goeschl

Working on the front line can be risky. You’re lifting people, being exposed to bodily fluids, and fighting various bacteria and infections. The nurse’s life is not for the faint of heart!

Rarely does administration provide direct patient care, so it can be difficult for them to identify specific changes that would make a profound impact. Here are a few tips that came to my nursey mind when thinking about what would make our bedside lives safer.

1. Overhead lifts. These are a godsend. It’s much easier and safer to move patients with an overhead lift than a bedside lift or with other staff members. These are great because they are always within arm’s reach. I’ve used lifts that are not in the ceiling and they take quite a bit of time to go track down, clean PRN, get into the room, move things around so that it fits around the bed and then lift the patient. It just takes too much time when you’re working minute to minute. Overhead lifts are the way to go!

2 A quick reporting system. When there’s a break in the system and an error occurs, the front-line staff need an efficient way to report it. However, many of these reporting systems require an extensive amount of information and it takes quite a long time to fill out appropriately, which results in decreased compliance. We’re already overly burdened with extensive documentation—make your reporting system quick and efficient and request a follow-up with the filer if you need more information. Problems will get reported more consistently, and therefore more appropriate and successful solutions can be implemented.

3. Signs to remind all care providers, visitors and staff to clean their phones before, during and after their shifts or time at the hospital. You can’t walk down a hospital hallway without seeing 10 people look at their phones. Cell phones are a phenomenal resource, yet rarely do people actually clean them. Studies show cell phones have more bacteria than toilet seats! Educate and remind people to clean their phones regularly and not to share them.

4. Promote hand hygiene to physicians, patients and visitors. Hand hygiene campaigns often focus on the nurses and nursing assistants—however, sometimes physicians can be the worst offenders regarding hand hygiene. And bedside staff can get so focused on taking patients to the bathroom and cleaning them up that we forget to remind the patient to wash their hands, or do it for them. Everyone needs to make this a priority, not just the nursing staff.

Nurse Pro Tip: If your patient has C. diff and there are alcohol hand-sanitizer dispensers in and around that room, tape over them with a piece of paper reminding your patient to only use soap and water. Hand sanitizer does not remove C. diff, which can stay on your hands for an extended period of time, and this can be easily forgotten when going in and out of rooms quickly.

What suggestions do you have to make workplaces safer for nurses and nursing assistants? Tell us in the comments below!

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