2020 National Patient Safety Goals

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If there’s one thing consistent about the health care field, it’s that it’s always changing. Whether it’s new uses for medications, new technology, new diseases, or new understandings about how the human body works, we are always ready to adapt. 

With that progress comes new issues. Medical organizations, such as the Joint Commission, keep track of issues, and determine best practices as they come up. In the Joint Commission’s case, the organization puts together a yearly list of National Patient Safety Goals

Keeping up with these issues and guidelines helps facilities stay accredited to show that they meet the best standards for quality care. So what are they, and how do they apply to you?

What is the Joint Commission?

Depending on where you’ve worked in the medical field and how long you’ve been there, you likely have heard of the Joint Commission. If you haven’t or need a refresher, the Joint Commission is a national organization that accredits patient care facilities, like hospitals, nursing homes, or laboratory services. 

After the initial inspection to decide whether or not a facility can receive accreditation, the facilities then have to pass regular inspections. If you’ve worked in a facility with Joint Commission accreditation, you’ve likely experienced the flurry of activity and stress that comes with an inspection. These inspections make sure that those facilities stay up to the Joint Commission’s current quality standards to protect the staff as well as your patients.

What are National Patient Safety Goals?

Every year, the Joint Commission releases National Patient Safety Goals. These goals are based on patient safety issues that have come up as the most common and concerning for the current fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The goals are divided up by specific programs and facility type, as patient needs will vary between specialties. 

If you work in any of these facility types, be familiar with the patient safety goals, even if the facility you normally work at isn’t accredited. These goals can help you identify areas where you might need to pay closer attention to make sure that our patients are kept safe and given the best care they need.

Below is a list of the different patient care centers that the patient safety goals cover, links to where you can download the full information, and a brief summary of the issues talked about in that category. 

Ambulatory Health Care

The patient safety goals for ambulatory health care include the following:

  • Identifying patients correctly
  • Using medications safely
  • Preventing infection
  • Preventing mistakes in surgery

Behavioral Health Care

These are the annual goals for behavioral health care:

  • Identifying individuals correctly
  • Using medications safely
  • Preventing infection
  • Identifying individuals served safety risks

Critical Access Hospital

For critical access hospitals, here are this year’s national patient safety goals:

  • Identifying patients correctly
  • Improving staff communication
  • Using medicines safely
  • Using alarms safely
  • Preventing infection
  • Identifying patient safety risks
  • Preventing mistakes in surgery

Home Care

The annual patient safety goals for home care services include:

  • Identifying patients correctly
  • Using medications safely
  • Preventing infection
  • Preventing patients from falling
  • Identifying patient safety risks

Hospital

Included safety goals for hospitals are the following:

  • Identifying patients correctly
  • Improving staff communication
  • Using medications safely
  • Using alarms safely
  • Preventing infection
  • Identifying patient safety risks
  • Preventing mistakes in surgery

Laboratory

For laboratories, the Joint Commission describes how to tackle the following patient safety goals:

  • Identifying patients correctly
  • Improving staff communication
  • Prevent infection

Nursing Care Center

If you work in a nursing care center, here are the patient safety goals for 2020:

  • Identifying patients correctly
  • Improving staff communication
  • Preventing infection
  • Preventing residents from falling
  • Preventing bedsores

Office-based Surgery

For those working in office-based surgery centers, here are the patient safety goals for your facility:

  • Identifying patients correctly
  • Using medications safely
  • Preventing infection
  • Preventing mistakes in surgery
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