According to reports, more than 40,000 patients are injured each day in American hospitals.
Forty-thousand. Each day.
But nurses can change that . . . which is why I recommend Safe OPS to help nurses keep their patients from becoming part of those sad statistics.
Safe OPS is performed when the nurse first meets her patient. Whether during bedside report, or as the nurse first meets her patient at the beginning of her shift, Safe OPS is easily workable. It involves conducting a quick assessment of the patient’s room:
Safe Environment: Is the patient’s bed at its lowest position? Siderails up and wheels locked? Does the sharps container need to be replaced (this is more for the nurse’s safety than the patient’s)? Is the hand-sanitizer dispenser working? Is there clutter on the floor or in the patient’s toilet/shower that can become a trip hazard? Has the trash been emptied by the offgoing shift? Is the patient’s call light and phone within reach?
O: Oxygen – The time to discover the patient’s oxygen setup is missing is not when the patient needs oxygen. Is the oxygen regulator plugged into the GREEN wall unit? One might be surprised how often the O2 regulator is plugged into the yellow medical air unit) Is the regulator ready for immediate use? Is the “Christmas tree” plastic adapter screwed into the regulator? Is a mask or nasal canula placed with the regulator?
P:Pumps – A more thorough assessment of the pumps will come later, but for immediate Safe OPS, the nurse should perform a quick check of all the pumps at the bedside. It takes only a few seconds to ensure the IV pump is set at the correct rate, the bag has the right fluid, the tubing is labeled, and there are no obvious signs of phlebitis or infiltration. If the patient has a PCA, the nurse should also ensure it is turned on, has the correct medication, and the patient’s pushbutton is within reach. If the patient has a wound vac or SCD machine, ensure they are turned on and (per nursing judgment), the patient is wearing the compression sleeves.
S: Suction – As with oxygen, when the patient needs suction now, that is not the time to discover the suction equipment is not ready. Make sure the suction canister is plugged into the wall suction AND tubing and a Yankauer are immediately available.
Safe OPS can be accomplished in less than thirty seconds. But more important, those thirty seconds can mean the difference between a safe and an unsafe hospital stay for patients.