2018 National Patient Safety Goals: Communication

Each year, the Joint Commission releases the National Patient Safety Goals in an effort to help accredited health organizations focus on areas of concern and develop solutions to help improve patient safety.

This year, the patient safety goals include a renewed effort to tackle communication challenges between caregivers, patients and staff. These and many of the areas targeted in the goals are particularly critical during the transitions of care, when a patient is transferred to another facility within the organization or referred to an external facility. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of serious medical errors involve miscommunication during the transition hand-off.1

Goals for the Hospital Setting

Let’s take a closer look at two of the national goals for the hospital setting:

NPSG.02.03.01 Improve staff communication: Get important test results to the right staff person on time.

NPSG.03.06.01 Record and pass along correct information about a patient’s medicines. Find out what medicines the patient is taking. Compare those medicines to new medicines given to the patient. Make sure the patient knows which medicines to take when they are at home. Tell the patient it is important to bring their up-to-date list of medicines every time they visit a doctor.

The Joint Commission recommends these elements as a baseline for your procedures:

  • Developing written procedures for how to handle critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures. Detail who reports the results to whom and the timeline for doing so.
  • Obtain the best possible medication history from your patient when they are admitted into your facility.
  • Provide the patient with detailed written information about the medications they need to take with their discharge instructions. These instructions must be accessible to the patient, free of jargon and any unapplicable information inserted by your EHR.

More detailed guidance is available here and at the Joint Commission Transitions of Care Portal.

How MedBridge Can Help

Here at MedBridge, we’re hard at work on a new series designed to help with these critical transitions. Many entries will be added in the coming months, covering a variety of conditions. But, the first entry in the series is available in our catalog now: Transitions of Care in Stroke with Barbara Lutz.

This course covers recent health care legislation targeting improvements to transitions of care, explores transitional care models and applications for post-acute partners to help improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.

The Joint Commission’s recommendations also encourage organizations to improve the standardization of training for all staff on appropriate communication during this type of transition. Each facility should define what a successful hand-off looks like, train their staff to perform the appropriate steps to complete the transition successfully and identify how staff can receive feedback in real-time. This requires coordination at an organization-level, facility-level and with your partner organizations.

The most efficient way to deploy a standardized program like this is by using a Learning Management System to assign, track and document training progress. The program should include the information specific to your organization, specific to your facility and the best practices relevant to the care transition your staff encounter.

Take a look at two of our compliance courses available in the MedBridge catalog now, these can help your organization standardize best practices and train staff on the communication elements critical to the care transition:

  1. Solet DJ, et al: Lost in translation: challenges and opportunities in physician-to-physician communication during patient hand-offs. Academic Medicine, 2005;80:1094-9