Yale School of Medicine researchers have designed clinical patient safety interventions to reduce medical errors that claim thousands of lives each year.
The patient safety enhancements implemented at Yale-New Haven Hospital include communication training, standardizing interpretation of foetal monitoring, and improving hospital staff's own perception of the safety climate in obstetrical care.
"There is a crisis of confidence in American healthcare right now. Reports in the media about patient injury in the hospital setting were causing concern, and we sought to apply some basic principles to obstetric care to make it a great deal safer than it is right now," says Dr. Edmund F. Funai, an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale
In tracking and analysing 14 markers for adverse outcomes, the team found that the rate of adverse events decreased by about 60 per cent over 2.5 years, while the staff's own perception of the overall safety climate increased by 30 per cent, according to a survey given by a third party.
Funai says that the main cause of adverse events and patient injury is a breakdown in communication, usually involving failure to recognize the severity of a given situation or condition, often involving a newborn's status.
"Communication issues are only going to increase as a result of restrictions on resident work hours. Patients are increasingly handed off from shift to shift and more attending physicians are practicing shift medicine. There is just more opportunity for errors in patient care. Everything we can do to standardize care and facilitate communication will make a big difference," he said.
"After taking these surprisingly simple steps to address safety, both patients and staff report that the care is much more seamless and better organized. The staff is more comfortable and empowered to communicate their concerns about a patient. A comfortable staff often leads to more successful patient outcomes," he added.
The preliminary results from this research were presented at the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas, on February 2.