How COVID-19 Will Change Hospital Safety Efforts
Two physician leaders share how their healthcare systems are ramping up efforts to enhance staff and patient safety.
VigiLanz’s 2020 Hospital Patient Safety Survey, which took place just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., found that hospital leaders are highly confident about their infection prevention programs. Seventy six percent of the 100 survey respondents characterized their hospital’s infection prevention efforts as extremely or very effective.
Still, COVID-19 is raising unprecedented challenges for hospitals. Despite heroic efforts, many are struggling to contain the virus’ spread and protect their staff members—largely due to personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages. As of April 9, more than 9,000 healthcare workers had tested positive for the virus, according to the CDC.
In response, hospitals are ramping up efforts to enhance staff and patient safety. As the senior vice president and chief physician executive at a large healthcare system in the mid-Atlantic region told us, employee safety continues to be a high level priority amidst COVID-19.
“We’re focused on reducing risk to our heroes serving on the front-line.”
“We are tracking this very closely,” he said. “Also, we are focusing on how to maintain safety in areas where there are decreased cases, such as the OR. We will also watch safety closely as new care models are implemented with different staffing models due to the surge.”
Quelling transmission of COVID-19 to healthcare providers is also a top priority at a large health system in the south-central region of the country. “We’re focused on reducing risk to our heroes serving on the front-line,” said the chief medical officer there. “We’re increasing our rotation of personnel to assist in decreasing fatigue and exposure, limiting visitors to our facility, and accelerating training of all personnel in proper donning and doffing of PPE.”
He added that COVID-19 will have a significant long-term impact on patient safety initiatives. “We’ll focus on more training on PPE, utilizing new disinfecting products and unique items to decrease staff exposures during intubations and particle aerosolizing, and on preparing for new or rebound viral pandemics/epidemics,” he said. “More resources will be allocated to personnel and training in infection prevention procedures.”
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