3 Surprising Stats According to a Patient Safety Expert

COVID-19 made it clear that it is mission-critical to prioritize preventing the spread of infection within healthcare organizations to better protect both patients and staff. Safety shortfalls during the pandemic also revealed that there is an opportunity for more to be done behind-the-scenes to improve safety and preparedness across healthcare.

According to Dr. Eric Eskioglu, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical & Scientific Officer at Novant Health, hospitals can do much more to commit to a culture of safety and quality -- including embracing technology that provides actionable insights to drive lasting behavior change and better patient outcomes.

Here are 3 surprising safety statistics to know, from Dr. Eskioglu:

1. Patient safety falls behind the standards of other industries: To put the risk into perspective, the daily amount of serious safety events and hospital-acquired infections in hospitals is equivalent to two full plane loads of people crashing every day in this country. “If two planes crashed every day, how many people would fly? Nobody would fly. Unfortunately, we've accepted this for some reason in healthcare,” said Dr. Eskioglu.

2. An age-old challenge is holding modern healthcare back: Poor hand hygiene in hospitals results in more than 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections each year, and of those infections, about 100,000 people die because the simple, age-old technique of washing your hands has not been complied with. According to the CDC, healthcare workers wash their hands less than half as often as required. Electronic hand hygiene monitoring eliminates the ‘he said, she said’ - providing a foolproof method to verify if someone washed their hands, while creating an opportunity for individualized, positive coaching, adds Dr. Eskioglu. 

3. Patient safety has long lagged behind other areas of healthcare, which have become more data-driven: Many organizations have adopted innovations like telemedicine, electronic health records, and robotic-assisted surgery, however patient safety protocols, such as purposeful hourly rounding (PHR), are still commonly monitored with manual pen and paper chart tracking methods. “If nobody has been in a patient’s room for three hours or more, we know that the risk of a patient fall goes up by 50 percent,” said Dr. Eskioglu. But hospitals can leverage technology to mitigate this risk and prevent falls which may be both costly and catastrophic.

These numbers to know are a clear call to action for healthcare executives to embrace data-driven solutions that are more accessible than they might realize.  Read more about Novant Health's system-wide approach to building a culture of safety. 

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