My Wish for Healthcare Staff
by Mary Jagim RN, MSN, CEN, FAEN | Principal Consultant at CenTrak
As an Emergency Nurse of more than 25 years, I find myself a bit frustrated that my one wish for healthcare remains largely unanswered. What is my wish? That everyone involved in the healthcare process - patients, their families, and the care providers - have a safe environment in which to either receive or deliver care.
This means so much to me that even in my consulting work, I look for every possible way to make my wish come true. I believe that the work we are doing with Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS), can make a huge difference, and I’d like to share with you why:
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, nurses are 5 times more likely to be attacked on the job than any other service professional. None of us choosing a career in healthcare go into it expecting to be assaulted, verbally or physically. Yet, many of us, myself included, can testify to being assaulted on the job. Such an environment threatens the safety of staff and patients. It also increases staff turnover and burnout. The use of an RTLS system offers a superior solution by which all healthcare staff can discretely alert security of a duress event and receive rapid assistance. The location-enabled tool can serve as an enhancement to existing hardwired safety and security systems and reduce costs associated with on-the-job injuries. When staff can request help using their staff badge from anywhere and know that assistance can respond to their exact location, even if movement occurs after the button was pressed, we can be confident that the unthinkable outcome of some of these dangerous events will be reduced. That would go a long way to satisfying my wish for my colleagues.
Mass casualty events can easily overwhelm an emergency department. Arriving patients are triaged and placed into severity categories and are then moved to appropriate holding areas. During this process, things can get very hectic, and patients can become difficult to locate. RTLS solutions can provide a cost-effective tool for emergency preparedness situations and be used to identify in real-time where the patients and staff are located on the floor. A solution like this makes a horrible situation a little easier for staff and family members alike. I can’t imagine anything worse than a family member trying to locate a loved one involved in a mass casualty event and not being able to do so because no one knows where they are.
Outbreaks of infectious diseases can be frightening and in certain cases, even life-threatening. Being able to quickly identify how people and equipment have interacted with the infected individual is critical to providing timely preventative treatment and limiting the opportunity for future exposure events. Just “knowing” where someone or something has been can make such a difference in the delivery of care and keeping people safe.
I do understand the realities of healthcare and that financial constraints make solutions like this sometimes difficult to consider. I realize that “wishing” alone won’t solve the issue. However, all of us in healthcare entered the profession because we want to help people in times of need. Systems like these provide benefits that far outweigh the initial financial cost of implementation and allow both the staff and patients the opportunity to function in a safe and caring environment, while also producing a return on investment.
So, I’m going to continue to wish, and more importantly, continue to work at spreading the message that the use of real-time location systems are really important in healthcare, how they can improve safety across the board and ultimately, save lives.
For more information on how a renowned healthcare facility in North Carolina implemented a robust staff safety program including the use of RTLS, please check out my most recent webinar: Turning the Tide on Violence with Dr.Deb Harding, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Vice President and Regional Chief Nurse Executive at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. We had an enlightening discussion around steps for successful implementation including communications, messaging, and staff education, as well as documentation to support Joint Commission requirements and long-term data analysis to understand trends, outcomes, and ROI.