South Florida Hospital News
Thursday May 28, 2020
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April 2006 - Volume 2 - Issue 10

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Safety First at Jackson

Abbe Bendell, R.N., B.S.N, M.B.A.-H.A., C.C.M., C.P.U.R., was recently named Vice President of Care Management, Quality & Patient Safety at Jackson Health System. She shares how Jackson is addressing safety issues – from medications to the ER.

What are the biggest safety issues at Jackson?

Jackson has many of the same safety issues as the rest of the country. Our amount of charity care continues to rise and we are the only safety net hospital in Miami-Dade County. Due to the increasing number of uninsured, many patients are waiting to access our services and, when they do, they come in sicker. This leads to an increased number of people accessing the emergency room – an overcrowding problem seen nationwide. Actually, Jackson’s ER volume is one of the largest in the country.

What has Jackson done to address these challenges?

We have constructed a new area for the ER, remodeled part of the old ER and worked on our processes of care. We’ve also worked to move non-urgent patients out of our ER to our ambulatory clinics and primary care centers for same-day appointments. Utilizing Bed Coordinators and adding a Discharge Lounge to free up beds earlier to enhance patient flow have also helped significantly. And we continually look to benchmark data to identify ways we can improve.

Has technology challenged or enhanced patient safety?

It is a constant challenge to keep up with the changes in technology, but those changes also enhance patient care. Automation decreases variation in care and saves precious time for healthcare providers.

What is the biggest safety issue from a nursing perspective?

The nursing shortage – which is definitely here at Jackson and the whole country and will get worse, I’m afraid, as our workforce ages.

How about meds?

Medication distribution and administration is a key issue for all hospitals. In fact, fifty percent of all errors have been attributed to handwriting. The need to move to automation and electronic medical records will do a lot to prevent med errors now and in the future.

How has patient safety issues changed over the years?

The importance of patient safety has grown over the last few years. Jackson strongly believes this is so important that we co-funded – with the University of Miami – a Patient Safety Center in January, 2005. Using the aviation industry as a prototype, the center is a "primer" on how to write scripts and provides patient safety education. This is system-wide and our physicians, interns, resident, fellows and other health providers go through the program. We also have weekly patient safety rounds to troubleshoot as well as using anonymous reporting.

Abbe Bendell has held a number of positions at Jackson, starting as a staff nurse in labor and delivery.

For more information about Jackson Health System, visit www.um-jmh.org.
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