Clean hands tested during patient safety month?

21 November 2014

Media Release

A sea of green has welcomed Gisborne Hospital patients each Wednesday this month as the organisation has taken part in a national campaign to highlight patient safety. One hundred staff members have been wearing green ‘it starts with me’ tee shirts and have been encouraged to have conversations about what they are doing to keep patients safe.

Minimising the risk to patients from falls, infections, surgical errors and medication issues has been the focus of the Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) and is reflected in the activities that have taken place during the month. Hand Hygiene has also been a focus of the Commission and Tairawhiti District Health because hand hygiene is one the best ways to stop the spread of infection. Staff at Gisborne Hospital are regularly audited against the World Health Organisation’s five moments of good hand hygiene practice.

Staff and visitors will be able to test their hand washing technique on Wednesday (26 November). Infection Control Advisor Ray Pickles will be inside the main hospital entrance from 9.30 – 11am spraying peoples’ hands with a special ‘bug glitter’. “People will wash their hands and then come back and put their hands in a light box. Any areas that they have missed, where bacteria and virus’ may still be lurking, will glow purple. It is a very visual way to highlight the importance of thorough hand washing particularly in a health environment. Any parents who are trying to get the hand washing message through to their children are welcome to bring them in for a spray of ‘bug glitter’”

Tairāwhiti District Health is committed to providing the best and safest care to our patients every time, says Director of Nursing & Midwifery Sonia Gamblen. “The quality of the care we provide to patients and families is our priority every hour of every day. During Patient Safety Month we have been making a point to talk about simple things we can all do can do to keep patients safe.”

“We have had large feedback boards in our reception area where staff have been putting sticky notes with their thoughts about what they do to keep patients safe. Patients and families have been putting sticky notes up about what they think is most important thing staff can do to keep them safe.”

“While feedback from staff has centred around the practical things they do everyday – regularly washing their hands, going through a surgical safety checklist; much of the feedback from patients has shown that often it is how staff make them feel that makes the difference. Being listened to and having a friendly-face caring for you, goes a long way towards making patients and families feel okay to ask for help if they need it or clarify anything they don’t understand.”

Patients have been encouraged to ask questions with flyers on their meal trays. In addition the HQSC have run a medication safety themed limerick competition and a scavenger hunt which local staff and patients have participated in. The activities are all aimed at getting the conversations going; people thinking and talking about what keeps them safe.

Risk assessing patients to prevent things like pressure injuries, falls, infections and anaesthetic risks are some of the ways that staff help to keep patients safe. In Tairāwhiti, 87 percent of older people coming into hospital are now assessed for their risk of having a fall. Health care professionals work with patients and their families to develop a plan to prevent them from having a fall in hospital, and once they get home.

Surgical teams correctly use the World Health Organisation’s surgical safety checklist 93 percent of the time. The checklist reduces the risk of errors before, during or after an operation.

There is also big focus on making sure health care professionals know which medicines you are on, so any new medicines you are given work as well as they can. Health care professionals also want to make sure you are given the right dose of medicine at the right time and in the right way.