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Providers: Invest in patient safety or pay the consequences

Much attention has been paid by the media lately to the patient safety consequences of both embracing and failing to adopt electronic health records (EHRs). However, not all patient safety mechanisms currently being implemented in medical care facilities are communication-focused. In fact, healthcare facilities nationwide are being encouraged to install assistive technologies which function primarily to allow caregivers to handle patients safely.

When nurses and other caregivers fail to reposition, lift and otherwise move patients in safe ways, devastating falls and injuries can result. These incidents can leave healthcare facilities generally and healthcare providers specifically vulnerable to legitimate claims of medical malpractice. By installing safety-focused assistive technology, facilities can better ensure that patients are transported and otherwise moved safely.

Some healthcare facilities insist that they simply cannot afford to install these technologies. However, the consequences of neglecting patient handling safety will almost certainly be patient fall injuries in the future. Is it not more prudent to invest funds in patient safety preventatively, rather than in medical malpractice payouts following otherwise preventable injury?

Last month, the American Nurses Association released national interdisciplinary safe patient handling standards. Among those standards is installing and maintaining safe patient handling technology. It has become increasingly clear that nurses and other care providers cannot always safely move patients without assistive technology due to a variety of factors. As a result, it is critical that facilities invest in this technology preventatively instead of spending their understandably precious resources on paying victims after otherwise preventable falls have occurred.

Source: Health Leaders Media, "Patient Safety: Pay Now or Pay Later," Alexandra Wilson Pecci, July 2, 2013

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