A declining concern: Making hallways safer for orthopedic patients

There’s a pronounced decline near the end of the hallway between the pre-admission testing and surgical day care areas on the third floor at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. Collection Specialist Marilyn Ward should know, as she walks it several times a day.caseStudy photo

So do surgical day care patients, particularly orthopedic patients and the elderly. “Many of our patients are here for knee and hip replacements,” said Ward, “and some can have trouble getting around. I noticed that the end of the hallway was a particular problem and thought having handrails would help.”

Not sure how to make a request for handrails, she emailed COO William Doherty, MD, who co-chairs the HHS Culture of Safety Leadership Committee, with speedy results. “I was shocked, surprised and happy when he responded and the work was done so quickly,” she said. Handrails now have been installed along that section of hallway and flooring has been replaced as well.

“Now, when I send patients down the hall, I tell them to use the handrail,” she added. “They are pleased that we took steps to improve their safety.”

Her advice to other staff? “Keep your eyes open for opportunities to improve safety. Even something small, like handrails, could turn out to be something big if it prevents a fall.”

Staff who have patient safety suggestions or concerns are encouraged to submit an RMPro report or speak to their manager.



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