Penn State Health St. Joseph is on journey to zero harm

Penn State Health St. Joseph took multiple steps to prepare for the Sept. 17―20 visit by The Joint Commission. Among them were targeted efforts to meet the 2019 National Patient Safety Goals.

Established by The Joint Commission, the intent of the goals is to improve patient safety and focus on current health care safety concerns, such as:

  • Accurate patient identification
  • Improved staff communication
  • Safe use of medicines
  • Safe use of alarms
  • Infection prevention
  • Identification of patient safety risks
  • Prevention of surgery mistakes

St. Joseph spent three months completing a ligature risk assessment of all patient units on the Bern Campus from November 2018 to January 2019, according to Loretta Boyd, patient safety officer.

“Identification of patient safety risks is a new goal for 2019 that requires a risk assessment of all areas for suicide prevention,” she explains, adding that it is an ongoing effort. “In addition, we taught the staff new procedures put in place in order to keep behavioral health patients safe.”

The hospital also formed a pain management committee to develop a safe opioid patient brochure and complete education for nurses.

“In addition, we look for ways to decrease the amount of opioid medications in use at the hospital,” Boyd says. “That is a long-term initiative of the medical staff, and we continue to make progress.”

Another area of focus has been high-level disinfection, which involves how equipment is processed after a procedure to avoid contamination that can lead to patient infection.

“That was a major item the surveyors reviewed during their visit, as well as infection control and handwashing.”

Although each of these initiatives requires constant vigilance, St. Joseph is committed to solving all patient safety concerns, according to Boyd.

“It never stops,” she says. “We’re building on what we have. We’re on a journey to zero harm.”

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