The Governor of Nevada signed into law a bill requiring hospitals to use checklists for treatment and other care processes. The statute is not specific about what checklists should be used but does mention that checklists should be developed for use by health care providers and also employees whose duties affect the health of the patients, such as janitors. There is also specific mention of developing a checklist to be used when discharging patients which includes at the least verifying the patient received instructions on medications, aftercare, and anything else needed upon discharge. The bill also specifies that the hospitals must develop a policy for identifying patients before they receive treatment and a policy relating to hand hygiene. Hospitals are required to review their checklists annually and to report on their checklists annually to the legislature. There are sanctions for hospitals that don’t comply.
In Massachusetts, we are advocating for a checklist bill that would require the Department of Public Health to develop guidelines and would allow hospitals to develop their own checklists. The bill would require them to report on their use of checklists annually to DPH. (Learn more about the checklist bill on the HCFA website.) The hearing on this and other patient safety/quality of care bills was recently postponed to June 14, 10am-1pm, in hearing room A-1, State House. Contact Deb Wachenheim (email@example.com) with any questions, and contact your legislator encouraging him/her to support the use of checklists in hospitals. Let’s join Nevada in making patient safety a priority this legislative session!
On another quality of care front, Steward Health Care System, a for-profit chain that recently bought a number of Massachusetts hospitals, just published Quality Care Ratings on-line, with data on patient experience, clinical quality, and safety (Globe coverage). It indicates for each measure whether a given hospital was above or below the national average and by how much. The website also allows users to compare each hospital’s ratings with its competitors. This is a step in the right direction as all health care stakeholders, including consumers, talk about the need for more transparency and for making the information accessible and understandable to a broad range of consumers. We encourage more hospitals to take such steps toward ensuring consumers are more fully informed.