Woodrow Wilson once stated, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” This is exactly what has been occurring in health care throughout the last 10 or 15 years. The health care industry has lagged behind the majority of other industries for many years when it comes to technological innovation and integration. This technology is now on the forefront of all hospitals movements in efforts to ensure patients are as safe and well-cared for as they can be.
What do you need to know about the computer and technology at the bedside and your safety? Here are the top two items that you may find of interest as a patient or the family member of a patient when in the hospital. Technology does not replace everything.
#1 Patient Identification is still necessary
Accurate patient identification is critical when it comes to medication safety, procedure safety, accurate lab results and accurate diagnosis. Hospitals may vary on the exact details of patient identification, but all hospitals require two forms of patient identifier. This is mandated by The Joint Commission (TJC). What you should watch for is to be sure your provider of care (nurse, doctor, lab personnel, etc.) is appropriately verifying who you are. These identifiers may include your date of birth (DOB), account number, name, medical record number or picture. No, you don’t have to remember all the details. Most of these should be included in the information on your wristband. This wristband is a tiny but detailed technological innovation.
Another very important action item for the consumer of health care services is to not be angry with the hospital personnel for asking what may seem like dumb questions. These are truly proven life saving practices. So, even when you have been asked your name and DOB 5 or 6 times in a day, just remember it’s only to keep you safe.
#2 Barcoding at the Bedside
Not all hospital systems have this technology yet, but it is growing rapidly. This is a system in which your nurse will scan your armband and your medication. The armband contains your identifying information and will automatically pull your data to the nurse’s computer screen. Scanning of the medication helps to verify the five medication rights that have been practiced for hundreds of years. The right medication, right dose, right route (by mouth, injection, IV, etc.), right time and right patient are all critical to assuring your safe and accurate care when you are ill.
You can even talk to your health care provider as a knowledgeable consumer and Lethem know you are aware of what they are doing. This will help them to feel more at ease (especially if they are new to the system) and let them know that you are an aware consumer. Most importantly, please be understanding if they are having any difficulties with the scanning procedures. Your health care provider wants to take care of you as efficiently as possible and allow you to rest, but there are times when there are computer issues, connectivity problems, barcode problems, etc.
Whatever you do when you or your loved on is hospitalized, just remember an entire team of support personnel are working diligently to make your environment safe and provide you with the utmost quality of care. So, when you see a nurse, physician, etc. coming in your room with a new type of technological innovation, whether it’s a laptop, a handheld device, etc. remember they are doing what they do for you.