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Posted 5 Nov 2016 in Patient Safety Week

This article originally appeared in the Gisborne Herald.

Let's Talk. That is the theme for Hauora Tairāwhiti and other health boards during Patient Safety Week, when the emphasis is on better communication between patient, whānau and health professionals.

'There is a continuous commitment to improving safety for patients. This week there have been displays and activities to highlight the focus of the week — the Let’s Talk campaign,' said Hauora Tairāwhiti chief executive Mr Green.

'This is about enhancing discussion between patients and the people providing care, so that where more information is shared, outcomes are better. We have worked on advance care planning, checking that patients understand their treatment and what happens when they are discharged or transferred to another care setting.'

A highlight of the week at Gisborne Hospital had been a presentation by Dr Cordelia Thomas, associate health and disability commissioner for investigations.

'In outlining her experiences in overseeing the process of investigating complaints, Dr Thomas was able to provide useful insights for staff on how they can be even more responsive to the needs of patients and their families for care,' said Mr Green.

Patient Safety Week, which ends today coincides with the release of a new Health Quality and Safety Commission report, which shows patient harm reduction and cost savings have been achieved through improved health services. Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne said the Commission’s report marked a positive start to the week.

'It shows our hardworking doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are delivering results for everyone in New Zealand to receive safe quality health care. Hospitals have introduced measures to prevent people from falling, getting infections or being given the wrong medicines, and programmes to make surgery as safe as possible.'

Mr Green said programmes outlined in the commission’s report had been fully implemented and similar benefits could been seen for the Tairāwhiti population. The Commission’s Open4Results national report shows improvements had saved $50 million and added value of over $350 million since 2010, when the organisation was founded.

Findings included:

  • Since July 2013, there has been a reduction in surgical site infections related to hip and knee replacements, from 1.3 percent of operations to 0.9 percent of operations, saving up to $670,000 since August 2015. 'This is $42 million of care which can be redirected to patients who otherwise could not have been treated.'
  • Since April 2012, 260 central line-associated bacteraemia (CLAB) or bloodstream infections had been avoided, a $5.2 million saving. 'CLABs are distressing for patients and can lead to longer hospital stays and associated costs.'
  • Since January 2015 there had been 52 fewer inpatient falls resulting in a broken hip since January 2015. 'The rate of patients falling and breaking their hip in public hospitals has almost halved.'

Mr Green told Hauora Tairawhiti board members that Gisborne Hospital’s ward 9 (orthopaedic/rehabilitation) was trialling a system with physiotherapists aiming for a 'zero falls ward'.

'The clinical manager is very supportive of this aim and has asked her wards and departments to ring her if there is a patient fall, so that she can work with the team and better understand the systems and processes that contribute to falls. The effect of this post-fall review plus the heightened safety environment will be measured to ascertain if a fall-free hospital is achievable. Any reduction in the rate of falls will be a gain,' said Mr Green.

Hauora Tairāwhiti recorded seven patient falls in September compared to 13 in August.

The target is to have fewer than six falls each month.