Today’s NY Times includes an article about hospitals’ efforts to improve response time when a patient presses the call button. The article gives some specific examples of times when patients did not get a response and also discusses how small changes can make a big difference. Some hospitals have calls sent directly to a central operator so that he/she can assess the situation and determine who to send to assist the patient. Another hospital trains all hospital workers, including care providers, security and maintenance staff, etc., to look in on a patient if the call light is lit and respond as needed. Hospitals have also implemented “rounding” programs in which care providers stop by the patient’s room once an hour to, it is hoped, proactively address patient needs.
The article brings to mind the Rapid Response Methods that all Massachusetts hospitals are now required to have, and that many other hospitals across the country also have. Any patient, family member or staff person can activate an immediate response if it appears that a patient’s health is deteriorating. And some hospitals have found that other processes, such as the rounding procedure described above, can prevent the need to activate the rapid response.
Hospitals are busy places and it can be hard for individual patients to get attention when needed. Patients feel vulnerable enough lying in a hospital bed, and imagine the frustration when calls for help are not heard. These systems are examples of how hospitals can be innovative as they work to put the needs of the patients first.