What You Need To Know: 2021 National Patient Safety Goals

ESO Staff

The Joint Commission recently released its National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) for 2021, listing seven focus areas it recommends for health care professionals to improve patient safety.

Established in 2002 to help accredited organizations address specific areas of concern, the NPSG list is created with input from practitioners, provider organizations, purchasers, consumer groups, and other stakeholders. It not only helps organizations prioritize their activities for the upcoming year, but also informs the Joint Commission’s (JC) sentinel event alerts, standards and survey processes, performance measures, education materials, and projects.

Recommendations from the NPSG for 2021 include:

  1. Improve Patient Identification: Use at least two ways to identify patients. For example, use the patient’s name and date of birth to ensure that each patient gets the correct medicine and treatment.
  2. Improve Staff Communication: Get important test results to the right staff person on time.
  3. Use Medicines Safely: Before a procedure, label medicines that are not labeled (such as medicines in syringes, cups, and basins). Take extra care with patients who take medicine to thin their blood. Record and pass along correct information about a patient’s medicines. Compare the patient’s current medications with any new medication, and give the patient written information about the medicines they need to take. Remind them it is important to bring their updated list of medicines to every doctor visit.
  4. Use Alarms Properly: Make improvements to ensure that alarms on medical equipment are heard and responded to on time.
  5. Prevent Infection: Use the hand cleaning guidelines from the CDC and WHO, and set metrics around hand cleaning and use them to make improvements.
  6. Identify Patient Safety Risks: Better understand your community to reduce risks, like that of suicide.
  7. Prevent Mistakes in Surgery: Ensure the correct surgery is done to the correct patient, and to the correct place on the patient’s body. Employ procedures like marking the place of the procedure, and taking a “time out” before surgery to reduce mistakes.

Software Tools to Achieve NPSGs

Many of these safety goals center around ensuring that accurate data follows the patient through his or her entire care cycle, from prehospital care, into the ED, during in-patient care, and even during post-discharge follow-up care. Today’s top software for EMS and hospitals integrates easy-to-use, highly reliable electronic patient care records and better data sharing between EMS and Hospitals to make this possible. Other tools allow digital alerting to better assemble and communicate with team members, while powerful analytics tools help hospitals develop a better understanding of their communities to create outreach and prevention programs.

More efficient operations undoubtedly deliver better patient experiences and more positive outcomes. By improving processes in patient identification and increasing care in the small – but important – steps in procedures along the way, hospitals can achieve adherence to these safety goals.

The full list of 2021 NPSGs for Ambulatory Health Care, Behavioral Health Care and Human Services, Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, Home Care, Nursing Care Centers, Laboratory, and Office-Based Surgery can be viewed here.

Learn about the full ecosystem of software tools for Hospitals and EMS at ESO.com

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