FAMILIES GET INVOLVED WITH HOSPITAL CARE

Great article in today’s Washington Post (available here), called Teaming Up to Prevent ‘Crashes’
Some Hospitals Give Patients the Power to Get Extra Help, Stat

By Shirley S. Wang

Ms Wang writes about a new effort hospitals are making to allow family members call for help when their loved one is NOT getting care required in the hospital.

Hospitals are now providing emergency call buttons for families to alarm – and have trained rapid response teams on sight to respond.

The “rapid response team” (RRT) is designed to identify patients before they crash, or “code,” in respiratory or cardiac distress. Though staff members typically call for the team, some hospitals — in a controversial step — now permit patients and their families to activate the system if they feel a patient is failing or not getting needed medical attention.
“Families know these patients better than anybody else,” said Kathy Duncan, a faculty expert on RRTs at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit organization focused on patient safety initiatives. “It’s a natural progression of the culture of safety in the hospital. Everybody has a resource to call for help with the patient.”

“We’re letting the patient and family really become partners in their health,” said Tami Merryman, vice president of the Center for Quality Improvement and Innovation at the Pittsburgh medical center, which IHI says was the first to implement patient-initiated RRTs, in 2005.
More broadly, the rapid response system is part of a national initiative to reduce preventable deaths, spurred by a 2000 Institute of Medicine report on medical errors. While it’s now up to hospitals to decide whether to have such teams, a December vote by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits hospitals, could mandate them in all medical centers.

Great idea guys… we often hear from families, frustration on needing physician care immediately, and not receiving it, even in the hospital. Now the well educated and observant family member can participate as well.

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.