ECRI Institute: Facility Health Equals Patient Health

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PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa.—Patient safety issues extend far beyond tending the patient at bedside and include maintenance issues of healthcare facilities, the ECRI Institute announced in a news release. Patient safety includes the pipes, wiring, walls, floors, and even the drains that make up the actual building.

The ECRI Institute is an independent, nonprofit organization that researches issues related to improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of patient care.

“Facility-related issues can adversely affect patient safety just as much as medical errors," said Mark Bruley, CCE, vice president of ECRI Institute’s Accident and Forensic Investigation Group.

ECRI Institute PSO has seen numerous reports regarding maintenance issues that adversely affected patients, as well as situations that had the potential to do so. For example, construction at one facility contaminated its medical gas and vacuum systems, crossed water lines at another caused a temperature flux during a patient’s dialysis, and switched emergency and standard outlet plates at a third facility resulted in the failure of a patient’s ventilator during an electrical outage.

Organization leadership must take charge and ensure that facility safety is a priority for all staff members; staff should be empowered to call attention to hazardous conditions. In order to focus on the environment of care as a patient safety issue, leaders should: 

- Provide adequate resources to ensure the safety of the environment.

- Support a culture of safety, enabling staff to identify and report potential hazards.

- Participate in environment-of-care rounds and visibly demonstrate commitment to safety measures.

- Involve staff by asking about any concerns they may have and following up regarding these issues.

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