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Regional News/West: Calif. Sen. Boxer heralds hospitals' efforts to boost safety


By Sabriya Rice
Posted: May 3, 2014 - 12:01 am ET
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Some California nurses now wear color-coded sashes to signal they cannot be interrupted while dispensing medication. Another medical center in the state uses ultraviolet technology to disinfect hospital rooms. These are among the safety efforts underway highlighted by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in a report that outlines medical-error prevention measures in California hospitals.

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“We have the opportunity to pull more than 200,000 people back from disaster every year by preventing medical errors,” Boxer said. Publicizing best practices might encourage other hospitals to take similar steps to reduce medical errors, according to the report.

Boxer sent surveys in February to more than 280 hospitals in her state to learn what they were doing to prevent nine specific safety concerns. All 149 California hospitals that responded to the survey had introduced common interventions to address most of the nine errors listed: adverse drug events; catheter-associated urinary tract infections; central line-associated bloodstream infections; injuries from falls and immobility; obstetrical adverse events; pressure ulcers; surgical-site infections; blood clots; and ventilator-associated pneumonia.

Some hospitals were featured for their “unique approaches.” For example, nurses at Kaiser Permanente are required to wear colored sashes or vests when dispensing medications. The clothing alerts other staff not to interrupt them, in order to prevent distractions that could lead to a medication error.

UCLA Medical Center has started using ultraviolet-light technology to disinfect hospital rooms, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that UV radiation applications in the healthcare environment are limited.

Follow Sabriya Rice on Twitter: @MHsrice


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