Home Healthcare & Patient Safety

Home Healthcare & Patient Safety

Home health care services include nursing care; physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy; and medical social services. The goals of home health care are to help individuals to improve function and live with greater independence; to promote the client’s optimal level of wellbeing; and to assist the patient to remain at home, avoiding hospitalization or admission to long-term care institutions.  Part of achieving these goals involves patient safety and quality.

In reviewing patient safety in a home health care environment, it’s essential that providers look at frequent problem areas to determine how to improve the quality of the safety. Here we will discuss three of these areas:

Medication management is an area of concern in home health care environments, as many patients deviate from their prescribed medication regime. Therefore, nurses have to be vigilant for the possibility of medication errors in the home health care setting, recognizing the associated risk factors. Technology provides many opportunities to improve communication with patients, to provide patients with accurate information, to educate them about their medications, and to monitor medication regimes. Paying close attention to at-risk patients is most effective, with accurate documentation and review of medications during each patient encounter important.

Fall prevention is another area of concern in home health care. In fact, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, emergent care for injury caused by falls or accidents at home is one of the most frequently occurring adverse events reported for patients receiving skilled home health care services. Home health care providers need to know the risk factors for falls and demonstrate effective assessment and interventions for fall and injury prevention. Use of a fall-prevention program, standardized tools, and an interdisciplinary approach is effective for reducing fall-related injuries.

Unplanned hospital admissions can also cause safety issues for home health care providers. Risk factors associated with unplanned hospital admissions are the use of multiple medications, length of home health care episode, development of a new problem or worsening primary or secondary diagnosis, wound deterioration and falling accidents. Studies show that 20-25% of unplanned hospital admissions are preventable. Therefore, it’s prudent for home health care providers to identify best practice strategies to implement to prevent unplanned hospitalizations. Recommended best practices include implementing a fall prevention program, front loading visits, management support, 24-hour on-call nursing coverage, medication management, case management, patient/caregiver education, special support services, disease management, positive physician and hospital relationships, data-driven services, and safety and risk assessment.

Patient safety is critical in the services home health care agencies provide. In addition, having a sound insurance solution is key in the event of an accident or injury does occur while providing home health care services. Caitlin Morgan offers an end-to-end insurance program for the home health care industry. Give us a call at 877.226.1027 to discuss the details of our coverages.