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Safety: Focus on the Fundamentals
Take a back-to-basics approach to provide the safest environment possible.
Kathy W. Beydler, RN, MBA, CNOR, CASC
Stretch Bed
BY THEIR SIDE Patients need to trust that they’ll be protected from harm during every stage of their care.   |   Victoria Wiltshire

I have been a surgical nurse for more than 30 years and a patient numerous times. I’m fully aware, from both sides of the table, of the importance of safe surgical care. There are numerous factors that go into protecting patients from harm, and many are built on these five foundational elements.

Exhibit humanity. Seeing your patient as more than just another case sets the tone for safe surgical care. I read about a doctor who asks patients to write down personal information about themselves before surgery. This information is shared with the surgical team in the OR before the surgery begins. While I have not seen this in action, the concept is right on target. Understanding that the person on the table is important to someone — their family, loved ones, friends — can make an enormous difference in the overall focus of the surgical team.

To exhibit the humanity of health care, tell your patients what to expect throughout their surgical encounter. This will help to alleviate some of their anxiety in an already uncomfortable situation. Consider that the patient could be you or someone you care about and treat them as if they are. We have all heard the saying, “It’s minor surgery until it’s your surgery.” I can personally attest to the truth that there really is no minor surgery.

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