In late April, the BBC reported that a U.K. hospital was considering closing a unit of their children’s hospital due to a lack of children’s hospital staff.
The unfortunate situation was the result of a “severe shortage of doctors and nurses” available to serve the needs of children admitted to the unit.
The difficult decision to consider closing the unit was also influenced by not wanting to risk the health of each patient. “This is all about ensuring we can provide safe care,” the medical director told BBC.
The statement from the medical director resonated with our company because we ensure that our solutions support safe and efficient programs at children’s hospitals.
When your children’s hospital faces difficult staffing decisions to address operational issues, consider asking the following three questions to evaluate how you can continue operating safely and efficiently.
Are You Seeing Inefficiencies in Your Workflow?
One of the principles of the Lean methodology that Talon incorporates into our company is continuous improvement. This principle calls for our company to regularly examine the processes in our workflow to find areas to improve and become more efficient.
For your children’s hospital, you should regularly examine the quality and efficiency of your workflow to ensure that the nursing staff is performing at the highest level of their licensure. The actions that you can take to examine your workflow include:
- Talk to nurses and doctors in your facility to gather feedback.
- Identify the fixed vs. flexible costs that could be linked to inefficiencies in your workflow.
- Evaluate whether your medication management solution aligns with the workflow.
If the workflow is not enabling your nursing staff to perform at the highest level, then you should consider taking an important step to resolve the source of the inefficiencies. Taking this step will help you identify whether there are hidden costs that could be inadvertently influencing staffing decisions in your children’s hospital.
Is There a Rising Trend of Medication Incidents?
Unfortunately, medication incidents and errors are common in children’s hospitals and pediatric care units. These incidents are often the result of children’s hospital staff not properly trained, working in an inefficient workflow, a lack of communication, or staff being overworked due to a staff shortage.
In the specialized environment of a children’s hospital, something as simple as the specific dosage not being readily and securely available for a specific patient can have major implications.
Specifically, a medication incident could expose your facility to liability or penalties that could create additional costs for your facility. This could negatively impact your ability to hire new staff, retain current staff, and provide the highest quality ongoing training for your hospital staff.
For your children’s hospital, it is important to evaluate the efficiency of your workflow involving pharmacy and nursing to ensure the safe delivery of medication. The actions that you can take include:
- Monitor weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly data to determine if there is a rise in incidents.
- Look at the source of incidents to determine if there is a common factor involved in each incident.
- Talk to nurse, pharmacy, and medical staff to gather feedback about the common factors involved.
Is Medication Waste Impacting Your Costs?
A byproduct of medication error is medication waste. How often do your nurses receive the wrong medication to administer to a patient and then have to discard the medication?
Over time, the cost of wasted medication will add up. These rising costs have the ability to eat up your budgets and contribute to rising costs in your facility, negatively impacting staffing capabilities.
The main action that you should take is to walk through your workflow to find errors at the pharmacy level, errors that are related to the transport of medication, or errors from the administration of medication.
Once you identify the source(s) of medication waste, you should consider methods to address each step in the workflow to ensure proper and efficient use of medication. This will help you find ways to improve now and enable you to quickly identify the source(s) of medication waste in the future.
How Talon Supports Your Children’s Hospital Staff to Improve Patient Care
In addition to finding the answers to the three questions we identified, we believe you should work with Talon to maximize the capabilities of your children’s hospital staff and existing workflow.
Specifically, Talon is committed to supporting the trend of nurses spending more time at bedside caring for their patients. How do we help hospitals achieve that goal? We design, manufacture, and build standard or custom Point-of-Use Medication Storage units (a/k/a In-Room Dispensing Cabinets) that integrate directly in your workflow.
Our products increase the efficiency of your workflow and reduce the risk of medication incidents. This helps eliminate waste and hidden costs, while also ensuring that your nursing staff is effectively using their time working at the top level of their licensure.
Talon also offers standard or customizable carting solutions. Our transfer carts safely move medication from the pharmacy to the appropriate location according to your workflow. Additionally, our supply carts keep essential medical supplies organized in each hospital unit, improving efficiency and accuracy.
These cabinet and cart solutions are part of our MedCab™ and MedCart™ product lines that help children’s hospitals achieve safe and efficient operations, while also extending the capabilities of your staff to improve patient care.
When you are faced with difficult staffing decisions in your hospital, consider how Talon can partner with you to find the right approach that fits your needs. Contact one of our Client Solutions Representatives today to get started.