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30 Tips to Improve Patient Safety in a Medical Office

Posted by Jerry Stone on Jul 3, 2017 12:13:33 PM

patient safety: sharps container useEnsuring the safety of patients and employees while delivering top-quality care should be a priority for all medical practices, which is why implementing strong workplace safety policies and procedures is necessary to reduce practice risk and ensure an environment of safe care.

Research suggests that documentation, labs and referrals, patient scheduling and follow-up are some areas that medical practices can help improve patient safety. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of the most frequently found hazards include Bloodborne Pathogens Standards, Hazard Communications Standards, Ionizing Radiation Standards, Exit Routes Standards Electrical Standards.

Below we have summarized some guidelines and standards that will help to minimize incidents, protect employees and patients, and reduce a practice’s risk:

Records and Documentation
  • Ensure allergy information is documented in the same location for all medical records. If the patient does not have allergies, then document no known allergies with the acronym NKA
  • Keep an updated list of each patient’s medications, and be sure to include herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications
  • Keep a problem list with dates of problem identification, review, and resolutions
  • Use the patient’s words in documentation
  • Document after-hours patient calls in the medical record
  • Make sure staff members reconcile tests and referrals and consult orders with the results when received. Establish a process to fix discrepancies promptly
  • Ensure the communication of all test results to patients, including "normal" results
  • Instruct patients to contact your office if they do not receive results by a specific date
  • For patients who do not follow-up and are unreachable by phone, send letters and document all correspondence in medical records
  • Use a recall system for patients who are regularly seen
  • Use the test tracking capability in electronic medical records
Bloodborne Pathogens – OSHA Requirements
  • Implement a written exposure control plan, and update it annually
  • Ensure the use of universal precautions
  • Ensure the appropriate use of needles and sharps
  • Ensure the proper use of protective equipment such as gloves, facial protection, and gowns when necessary.
  • The Hepatitis B vaccine should be provided to exposed employees at no cost
  • Make sure staff receives medical attention following any exposure incident
  • Maintain the use of labels for items such as sharps disposal boxes and containers for regulated waste, contaminated laundry, and specimens
  • Conduct staff training
  • Maintain the proper containment of all regulated waste 
Hazard Communication- OSHA Requirements
  • Implement a written hazard communication program
  • Maintain a list of hazardous chemicals used or kept in the office
  • Keep a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical used or kept in the office
  • Conduct staff training
Ionizing Radiation – OSHA Requirements
  • Review all types of radiation used in the facility
  • Restrict areas to limit employee exposure
  • Ensure employees working in restricted areas wear personal radiation monitors
  • Make sure that rooms and equipment are labeled with caution signs
Exit Routes Standards- OSHA Requirements
  • Ensure exit routes are sufficient for the number of employees in any occupied space
  • Make sure a diagram of evacuation routes posted in a visible location

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