4 Tools to Achieve Patient Room Situational Awareness

Healthcare isn’t as safe as it should be—a 2016 study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine estimates that more than 250,000 people in the United States die from preventable medical errors, making it the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.

Situational AwarenessThis estimate is much larger than the Institute of Medicine study in 1999, which claimed that nearly 100,000 patients die from medical errors each year, and which kicked off the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “100,000 Lives Campaign” national patient safety movement. The difference is that medical errors are often not identified on death certificates as the primary cause of death. Even though value-based care is designed to reduce errors, acute care hospitals often respond to, rather than predict and prevent, events, according to a report published in the journal Hospital Pediatrics.

That’s why it’s important to help clinicians achieve patient room situational awareness, informally defined as what’s currently happening in the environment and what’s likely to occur in the future. Developing situational awareness skills helps nurses and clinicians perceive events in real-time and make decisions that improve patient safety and drive better outcomes.


Interested in improving situational awareness and patient outcomes at your hospital? Download our eBook on improving situational awareness today!

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At Amplion, we understand the importance of achieving patient room situational awareness. The Amplion Alert Care Assurance Platform provides clinicians with the tools they need to better understand real-time patient needs, make accessibility and communication easier for caregivers, and confirm that care is delivered on time.

Ready to get to work? Here are the four tools you need in your situational awareness toolbox.

Nurse call.  Some hospitals continue to use outdated nurse call systems tracing their technology to the 1970s—the simple call bells and lights creating inefficiency and fatigue.

In Amplion’s toolbox: The Amplion Alert next-generation nurse call system messages directly to appropriate caregivers based on patient need, and also features SmartLight technology, a configurable dome light that indicates the patient status and the urgency of the request. Bed alarms, chair pads and toilet seat fall sensors also send alerts directly to clinicians, identifying the issue and specific patient room.

Alarm management software. In 2014, The Joint Commission approved a new National Patient Safety Goal on clinical alarm safety for hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals. The reason? According to The Joint Commission, “Clinical alarm systems are intended to alert caregivers of potential patient problems, but if they are not properly managed, they can compromise patient safety.” Plus, the cacophony of alarms and alerts can lead to alarm fatigue and affect a caregiver’s ability to be situationally aware.

In Amplion’s toolbox: With the Amplion Alert Care Assurance Platform, alarm input devices are installed in every patient room. Each alarm type is detected as a unique alert and can deliver the message directly to the appropriate caregiver for quicker and more efficient response.

Advanced messaging capabilities. When a patient pushes the “call” button on a standard nurse call system, it’s routed to a nurse, who may or may not be able to respond at that moment.

In Amplion’s toolbox: Care Assurance Stations installed in every patient room allow clinicians to set reminders for patient rounding, turns and pain management. Nurses can also communicate their availability to respond to a patient—for example, Amplion’s messaging system provides the capability for caregivers to accept (or decline if not available) an alert, automate escalations and validate that care is delivered.

Data and analytics. Traditional nurse call systems are static and don’t capture patient room data for analysis.  Real-time data and analytics can help clinicians make decisions to improve medical care. It can also help improve care coordination. However, more data doesn’t necessarily mean more information, according to Mica Endsley, Ph.D., in her book, Designing for Situational Awareness. “In the face of this torrent of ‘information,’ many of us feel less informed than ever before,” she writes. “This is because there is a huge gap between the tons of data being produced and disseminated, and our ability to find the bits that are needed and process them together with the other bits to arrive at the actual needed information.”

In Amplion’s toolbox: Amplion’s real-time* reporting portal makes it easy to diagnose issues and take immediate action. Nurse leaders can analyze in-room activity within five minutes of occurrence. Amplion’s actionable, drill-down reports make it easy to determine situational awareness by floor, device, room or caregiver.

Ready to add Amplion’s tools to your patient care toolbox? Download our latest eBook, How Real-Time Situational Awareness Improves Patient Outcomes, to learn how achieving situational awareness can help drive clinical decision-making and improve patient safety—and how Amplion can help.

*within 5 minutes of patient room activity

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