February 26, 2018
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New National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) for 2018 went into effect in January. Among the key areas noted as emerging safety areas were medication safety related to patients on anticoagulation therapy1 and identifying patients at risk for suicide.2 While several best practices need to be followed to fully mitigate the safety risks, The Joint Commission3 specifically calls out patient education as a factor to combat these two risks.
These health conditions both have the potential to escalate quickly into life-threatening situations. The margins for using anticoagulants safely are quite narrow—even eating the wrong foods or taking the wrong over-the-counter pain reliever can put the patient in danger. And many people don’t realize how fast a patient in a temporary mental crisis may become overwhelmed to point of self-harm. Here’s a summary of the NPSGs and how they relate to education.
Reduce the likelihood of patient harm associate with anticoagulation therapy
Because of the complex dosing, insufficient monitoring and inconsistent patient compliance associated with anticoagulants (such as heparin and warfarin) the Joint Commission specifically recommends patient education. They state: “To achieve better patient outcomes, patient education is a vital component of an anticoagulation therapy program.”1
In addition to fact-to-face education for patients, hospitals should provide education regarding anticoagulant therapy to prescribers, staff, patients and families.
Patient and family education should include:
- The importance of follow-up monitoring
- Drug-food interactions
- The potential for adverse drug reactions and interactions1
Identify patients at risk for suicide
While this requirement only applies to patients being treated for emotional or behavioral disorders, suicides of patients in round-the-clock care settings has become a too-frequent event. The Joint Commission recommends risk identification both while under care and as part of the discharge process.2
At-risk patients and their families should receive discharge education that includes:
- Suicide prevention information (such as a crisis hot line)2
An interactive patient engagement system can provide anytime access to these important pieces of information in easy-to-comprehend formats in a patient’s preferred language.