Acting on ‘If you see something, say something’ may save lives

When phlebotomist Gina Bartsch went to labor and delivery at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital to draw a patient blood sample, she knew something wasn’t right. Then she did two things that may have helped save the life of a mother and her baby.

The first involved quick thinking. “The patient wasn’t very responsive when I asked her to confirm her date of birth for the two patient identifiers we need, and the nurses were very busy helping her,” Bartsch said. “I was pretty sure she was going to need more lab work than what I’d come there to do. So I drew what’s called a ‘rainbow’ – the equivalent of four samples rather than one.”

The second involved speaking up. She took the samples to the blood bank and talked with medical technologist Jesse Schacht. “I told him the patient had lost a lot of blood and I thought she might need a transfusion. He listened to what I said and prepared a transfusion even though we didn’t have an order for it.”

Schacht said “I developed a just-incase procedure for crossmatching blood – a way to anticipate orders that might come in. In this case, I crossmatched a couple of units of blood in anticipation of the call.” As it turned out, the patient did have a serious problem and was transferred to a Boston hospital for further care and the birth. Mother and baby are now home and doing well. Schacht said the patient’s doctor, Donald Monteiro, MD, “came down afterward to shake my hand and thank me, which really made me feel a part of the team.” This story illustrates a cornerstone of Hallmark Health System’s campaign to create a culture of safety – “if you see something, say something.” In this case, Bartsch spoke up. “Just as important, though, is that Jesse listened. With this level of teamwork and trust, we could anticipate what this patient needed and do the right thing for her and her baby.”

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