February 2003
Volume 27 No. 2


Physicians can take simple steps to improve patient safety

The 2003 patient-safety goals of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations include four simple, no-cost strategies physicians can adopt that have been found to significantly improve patient safety.

Debra Gerardi, patient safety manager for SHC, said these practices should be adopted not because they are JCAHO requirements but because "they constitute good, evidence-based medicine." JCAHO developed the patient-safety goals and associated recommendations by reviewing hospitals' most common sentinel events and identifying specific steps to prevent them from occurring. The four areas where physicians can have the greatest impact are the following:

Insist on a read-back of all verbal and telephone orders. n Ensure that two patient identifiers are used before beginning any procedure.

Mark the surgical site prior to surgery, and involve the patient in this process.

Before beginning any procedure, perform a final verification of the right patient, right procedure and right site.

For more information or questions about the patient-safety goals, contact Debra Gerardi at Debra.Gerardi@medcenter.stanford.edu or at (650) 724-1610.

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Physicians can take simple steps to improve patient safety