Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hot Summer Temperatures

With hot summer temperatures around the country, being outside can place the body under excessive stress.

According to an article published in The New York Times, one common response to the heat is fainting, also called heat syncope. Fainting usually happens when a person has been standing for a long period of time or when they suddenly stand up.

In hot weather, blood vessels expand because the body is trying to cool itself down. Gravity will take into effect and cause blood to drain downward into the legs and feet, depriving the brain of oxygen. This ultimately leads to dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting.
If you ever witness a person suffering from this, you can raise their legs to direct the blood flow to the brain. When the person regains consciousness, give them water or a sports drink, since dehydration can increase the risk for other heat-related maladies.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Skin Safety Tips

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer has become the most common form of cancer in the United States.

If you’re going to be in the sun, be sure to generously apply a broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin, even during winter or cloudy days. For prolonged outdoor activity, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. It should be reapplied roughly every two hours and right after swimming or sweating. 

Other sun-safe habits:
Wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-protection sunglasses, where possible.
Seek shade when available, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Use extra caution near water, sand, and snow, because they reflect and intensify the rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn and skin damage.
Avoid tanning booths and beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and indoor tanning can cause skin cancer and wrinkling.
Perform regular self-skin examinations. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Alarm Management

The Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, has issued a National Patient Safety Goal on Alarm Management in hopes of improving the safety of clinical alarm systems. 

According to an article published on Market Watch, the goal will require hospital leaders to establish alarm safety and take specific actions to help avoid patient injuries and deaths related to the alarms. 

While clinical alarms are intended to alert patient caregivers if something is amiss, many alarms in hospitals and other health care facilities are not properly managed, which can compromise patient safety. According to the Joint Commission, the most common issue is alarm fatigue, which occurs when monitoring technologies produce false alarms. These false alarms can lead to delayed response in care and poor patient outcomes, such as injury or death. 

Phase I from the Joint Commission, which will begin in January 2014, will make hospitals identify the most important alarms to manage as well as establish alarms as an organization priority. 

Phase II will begin in 2016, where hospitals will be expected to develop and implement specific components of policies and procedures. Education about alarm system management will also be required.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.
2200 E Camelback Road
Suite 213
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Evolution of Patient Safety

Are you curious to know how patient safety has evolved to what it is today? Be sure to glance at this informative infographic that explains it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Patient and Family Engagement

Check out the video below of Jeff Brady, M.D. from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) who discusses the importance of the online Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Google Glass

Last month, Dr. Rafael Grossman from the Eastern Maine Medical Center became the first surgeon to ever use Google Glass while performing surgery.  

Instead of a video camera, Google Glass Hangout was used to capture the entire procedure and was streamed live for those who had the receiver with them. Permission from the patient was granted and no identifying information was given during the surgery.
The patient underwent a procedure called “percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy” where a feeding tube is passed through the abdominal wall. Viewers were able to see the patient’s abdomen and the endoscopic view.

Grossman explained that his intention for using Google Glass was to show how the device and platform are tools that have great potential in healthcare and surgery. It can “allow better intra-operative consultations, surgical mentoring and potentiate remote medical education, in a very simple way.”
Videos of how Grossman uses Google Glass can be found here:


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hospital Alarms

According to an article published in The Washington Post, several hundred alarms per patient per day can cause alarm fatigue in any given hospital. Loud alarms can come from medical devices and equipment that scan for potentially dangerous changes in a patient’s heart rhythm, blood pressure or other vital signs.

However, most of the noises coming from a patient’s room is a false alarm or is something that doesn’t require any action, such as a ventilator sounding a warning all because a patient coughed. This can cause nurses and other health care workers to respond by turning down the volume on the devices, shutting them off or completely ignoring them. These actions can have serious and potentially fatal consequences.

Patient-safety advocates have warned of alarm fatigue for years, but the issue is taking on greater urgency as hospitals invest in more-complex and noisy machines that are meant to save lives. 

The ECRI Institute, a Pennsylvania-based patient-safety organization, listed alarm hazards as the number one issue on its annual list of top 10 health-technology dangers for 2012 and 2013. And over a three and a half year period, the Joint Commission estimated that there were close to 1,000 alarm incidents in which patients died or were injured.

Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore created an alarms task force, analyzed data and found that the average number of alarms that sounded per bed per day in one ICU was 771.  

In seven years, the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates medical devices, received 862 death reports associated with alarms. The agency is increasing staff awareness of alarm safety when it reviews applications for new devices. It is also working with hospitals and other groups to standardize alarm sounds.

Just last month, the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, began directing facilities to make alarm safety a top priority or risk losing their accreditation. Beginning next year, the commission will require hospitals to identify which alarms pose the biggest safety risks by unnecessarily adding noise or being ignored. By 2016, hospitals must decide who has the authority to actually turn off the alarms.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.
2200 E Camelback Road
Suite 213
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Friday, July 5, 2013

Questions that can save your life

According to a study by the Institute of Medicine, 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die every year from medical mistakes. This number makes medical errors one of the leading causes of death. The Joint Commission reports that the most common medical mistakes are wrong-site surgery, delay in treatment, post-op complications and medication errors.

While medical mistakes can happen at any given time, better communication on the patient’s part can help drastically.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are 10 questions that every patient should ask when being treated by a health care provider. They are:

What is the test for?
How many times have you done this procedure?
When will I get the results?
Why do I need this treatment?
Are there any alternatives?
What are the possible complications?
Which hospital is best for my needs?
How do you spell the name of that drug?
Are there any side effects?
Will this medicine interact with medicines that I'm already taking?

These simple questions can make you as a patient feel better and can even save your life.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.
2200 E Camelback Road
Suite 213
Phoenix, AZ 85016


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription painkiller overdoses have become an epidemic, especially among women.

Between 1999 and 2010, nearly 48,000 women died of prescription painkiller overdoses. Deaths from these overdoses among women have increased more than 400 percent since 1999 compared to 265 percent among men.

This under-recognized and growing problem for women results in approximately 18 women dying every day in the United States. However, health care providers can help improve the way painkillers are prescribed in order to assist women in having access to safe and effective pain treatment.

When prescribing painkillers, health care providers can use prescription drug monitoring programs to identify patients who may be improperly obtaining or using prescription painkillers and other drugs. They can also recognize that women are at risk of prescription painkiller overdose and follow guidelines for responsible prescribing, including screening and monitoring for substance abuse and mental health problems.

Women should discuss all medications they are taking with their health care provider and only use prescription drugs as directed.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.
2200 E Camelback Road
Suite 213
Phoenix, AZ 85016