Team-Tested Practices

Irvine Emergency Department Reduces Patient Falls With Teamwork

The Emergency Department at the Irvine Medical Center is finding that patient falls are preventable—it just takes teamwork.

Patient falls are among the most common occurrences reported in hospitals. Of those who fall, as many as half suffer moderate to severe injuries. The Irvine ED reported eight falls in 2009, and the UBT set a goal of reducing that number by half.

“Eight isn’t that high, but it’s still too many, especially since many of those resulted in workplace injuries,” says the team’s labor co-lead, Mitchell Hoffman, an RN and UNAC/UHCP member.

Small tests of change

The team’s small tests of change included identifying at-risk patients upon arrival in the emergency room; eliminating hazards, such as loose wires and cords, and implementing the “code assist,” an overhead paging system indicating that a staff member needs help with a fall-risk patient.

Hoffman credits UBT member Erin Didomizio, RN, a UNAC/UHCP member, with coming up with the idea of the code assist. “We knew we wanted to work on patient safety,” Hoffman says, “and she said part of the problem is getting help when you need it.”

Before implementing the code assist, UBT members explained it to their unit members and all 80 staff members received a memo about it.

Workplace injuries drop

“We just wanted people to understand that the severity (of the code) was on the same par as someone having a life-threatening emergency,” says Joseph Baker, RN, the assistant department administrator. “That it wouldn’t be a burden to anybody, but we would need everybody to pitch in.”

The code assist has had the added benefit of reducing workplace injuries from three patient-handling injuries last year to none this year.

”We feel that from our small tests of change, other Kaiser hospital can benefit, and there’d be a lot less worker’s compensation injury claims,” Hoffman says.

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