Today’s Globe features an interview with Dr. Melissa Mattison at BIDMC. She oversees the Global Risk Assessment and Care Plan for Elders (GRACE program) and has seen results based on the program’s work to make sure care for elders is tailored to their special needs and concerns.
One piece of this program is the use of a checklist for providers to review when they are working with elderly patients-questions to answer relating to things like whether or not the patient is confused, can walk around, etc. The checklist helps the providers to not skip over or forget anything important relating to the patient’s care.
At HCFA we have been advocating for all hospitals to use surgical safety checklists and checklists for reducing infections in the ICU. The GRACE checklist is another wonderful example of how checklists can reduce errors and improve quality of care for all patients. In addition to checklists, the GRACE program looks at how to minimize harm that could be done to the patient because of hospital protocols-such as waking up patients in the middle of the night to check vital signs or looking at medications being used and if they could potentially increase confusion in elderly patients.
The interview closes with the following words of advice from Dr. Mattison: “Be an advocate for your family. Be knowledgeable about your situation. Speak to the team caring for your loved one. Ask whether there are safeguards in place for the care of older patients at the institution.”
-Deborah W. Wachenheim