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Cuero Health: Patient Safety Awareness Week More Critical Than Ever in 2020

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Contact: Emily Weatherly

Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 8 – 14, falls during a critical time in our nation’s healthcare given the growing concerns surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as other major patient safety issues like medication management, fall prevention, sepsis, handwashing and more. Cuero Regional Hospital wants to ensure these critical safety issues stay top of mind as we care for our community.

​​​​​​About the Initiative
Patient Safety Awareness Week is an annual recognition event intended to encourage everyone to learn more about health care safety. During this week, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) seeks to advance important discussions locally and globally, and inspire action to improve the safety of the health care system — for patients and the workforce.

“Patient Safety Awareness Week serves as a dedicated time for increasing awareness about patient safety issues, as well as recognizing our amazing staff for their strides in improving patient safety. Over the past year, our Cuero Health team has consistently focused on the use of two patient identifiers to assure we deliver the right care to the right person; as well as proper handwashing and sepsis prevention. Cuero Regional Hospital reports 87% success rate in meeting nationally recognized Sepsis protocols. This sets us ahead of the Texas average of 60% and the national average of 58% compliance. Another focus of assuring safety across our community is the development of a community paramedic position which will provide follow up to patients post discharge to assure they are able to get their medications, follow up appointments with their physicians and as well as answer any questions they may have since they are home. We now have that position in place to help better provide patient safety outreach to the communities we serve,” said Denise McMahan, Assistant Administrator at Cuero Regional Hospital. “In an effort to decrease the prevalence of falls in the health care setting and in the home, Cuero Wellness Center is developing a balance program designed to assist in strengthening exercises and fall avoidance,” said McMahan.

Why a Focus on Safety?
Although there has been real progress made in patient safety over the past two decades, current estimates cite medical harm as a leading cause of death worldwide, according to the IHI website. The World Health Organization reported some 40 percent of patients experience harm in ambulatory and primary care settings with an estimated 80 percent of these harms being preventable. “Locally, our staff and our patients have to be mindful of their surroundings, as well as doing everything in their power to avoid medical errors. At Cuero Regional Hospital, we continue to focus on the key fundamentals of patient safety – proper handwashing, using two patient identifiers, ensuring a safe environment, etc. to keep both our staff and patients safe,” said McMahan.

Per the IHI’s website, some studies suggest that as many as 400,000 deaths occur in the United States each year as a result of errors or preventable harm. Not every case of harm results in death, yet they can cause long-term impact on the patient's physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships. “Given this statistic, we have to do our part to prevent errors or harm to our patients. Keeping this top of mind not just during Patient Safety Awareness Week, but throughout the year via staff reminders, training, education, department meetings, etc., we can keep this critical issue at the forefront of all we do,” said McMahan.

“With the growing concerns of the coronavirus, patient safety awareness week really hits home,” said McMahan. “Cuero Regional Hospital will distribute small hand sanitizers during Patient Safety Awareness Week at our locations to emphasize the importance of good hand hygiene.” Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

As a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases including COVID-19,

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For more information, McMahan encourages the public to stay informed on the latest regarding the coronavirus via the CDC’s website - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, as well as the Texas Department of State Health Services website - https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/

“Everyone interacts with the health care system at some point in their life. And, everyone at Cuero Regional Hospital and our clinics have a role to play in advancing safe health care practices and procedures. We will continue to provide patient safety training and resources to our staff to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to protect our patients and improve our quality care to those we so proudly serve and have served for the past 50 years,” said Lynn Falcone, CEO of Cuero Health.