Dispatches from the Frontlines: Ensuring Safe Transitions

By Irene Andress, Chief Nursing Executive
Years ago when one of my hockey-playing twin sons, Justin, was very young, he underwent surgery to repair a hernia. As a mom, I had a lot of fears. How would he react under anesthesia? Would there be complications? Would his recovery be uneventful?
I know many of you can relate. I’m a nurse, but Mom first.
And during those moments waiting for him to come out of surgery, I remember feeling vulnerable, helpless and scared. Pain shows up in a lot of different ways for different people.
When I first saw Justin in the Post Anesthetic Recovery Room or PARR, I knew he was in a lot of pain. He was writhing and reeling and climbing over the rails. It was scary to watch. Even with clinical knowledge, I struggled to make sense of what was going on. I relied on the expertise of the nurses and physicians.
I also relied on their knowledge and skill to communicate what I needed to know as Justin transferred from the Operating Room (OR) to PARR and then to the unit. Seven years later, Justin does not remember trying to climb off the stretcher.
A few weeks ago, I visited PARR – this time to shadow Jessy Thomas, a highly-skilled RN of more than 15 years of experience. I saw how she used the Eight Rights of Medication Administration to minimize the chance of medication errors, performed independent double checks on a number of processes to ensure safety and kept her patient comfortable during her stay in PARR.
Watch Jessy in action below.

As you all are aware, when we transfer our patients from OR to PARR and then to a unit, the critical information about their health must be passed on safely and effectively. For a safe transfer we must make use of the tools that we have to ensure that we’re giving the right information to the right person at the right time. This guarantees that there is no gap in the continuity of care. We must make sure that the critical information about the patient is communicated clearly and effectively to the next care provider – complete documentation that uses checklists, face-to-face communication and sometimes the telephone.
Over the next month I challenge you to reflect how you help transition patients safely. How you use the 2 Patient Identifier and other tools to ensure safe transitions.
As a provider, you can’t know for sure what your patient is going to remember from their experience in hospital. But what you can do is ensure that you’re using your knowledge and skills to keep your patients safe and comfortable. They will always remember – and thank you.
Join me on Twitter @IreneAndress.

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