We've instituted a pager system for patient escorts that alerts them when their loved one's procedure is complete and the patient has been taken to the recovery room. Here's how it works.
When the patient is admitted, we give the family member or significant other the pager, and record the pager's phone number on the patient's chart. Our waiting room isn't very large, so it's not always comfortable to have everyone in there at the same time, especially on busy days. Because the pagers work anywhere, they give those waiting the freedom to venture out to run errands or simply take a walk. When the patient gets to the PACU, the recovery room nurse calls the pager, signaling to the patient's escort that he may return to the waiting area, from which he will be escorted back to the recovery area.
These pagers aren't fancy - you can't send text messages on them. Because they're the most basic ones you can get, though, we rent six for about $30 a month, making them very affordable. Families are happy with the system because they know they'll be called the minute the patient is in the recovery room and the waiting area atmosphere is more comfortable. In addition, it's really increased staff satisfaction, because it keeps the waiting room clear, improves their communication with those waiting and streamlines the escort-notification process - no more hunting down missing-in-action patient escorts.
JoAnn Robichau, RN, BSN, MSHA
Teton Outpatient Services
Get creative to take the bore out of drills
The federal government wants healthcare facilities and workers to be prepared in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. If there's a large-scale event, not only hospitals but ASCs and office-based surgery centers will be used as triage units or for other tasks deemed necessary by county, state and federal response teams.
This means doing specific disaster-preparedness exercises. But it doesn't mean the drills have to be dull or boring.
We borrowed an idea from a disaster drill video Northwest Airlines produced several years ago in which a midair jet collision had occurred at nearby Detroit Metro Airport. The video incorporated footage of local emergency crews and recognizable landmarks to bring the disaster into true-to-life focus.
We sought the help of our local television station and scripted a scenario in which part of a local junior high collapsed. On the video, the newscaster presented the story as breaking news, broadcasting the information from the anchor desk. He reported the crews that were responding, the estimated number of casualties, the estimated number of fatalities and that our facility would be the destination of the emergency response.
The video worked because it gave the staff a surge of emotion as they readied to deal with the emergency; the use of a familiar face and landmarks brought the disaster into their community.
Mark Baranski, RN
Director of Emergency Services
Munson Medical Center
Traverse City, Mich.