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Helping Hippocrates: A Cross-Functional Approach to Patient Identification

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Background: The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations National Patient Safety Goal 1, which requires the use of at least two patient identifiers, is the foundation for other patient safety goals. St. Francis Hospital involved staff and patients in the "Helping Hippocrates" Project, which used a "game" with staff and patients to ensure the accuracy of information on patients' identification (ID) bands.

The Project: Members of all hospital departments assigned to a specific day were to compare the ID band with the patient census report and identify patients who had no ID band on their wrist and patients who had a band with inaccuracies. They were to also ask patients if the staff had checked the ID band before treatments or procedures. Also, the nurse manager was to select a patient to add to his or her own ID band a special band bearing the name Hippocrates. The department conducting the survey had to find Hippocrates.

Findings: Internal data showed that patient identification errors declined from 8.2% to a sustained zero. Patient satisfaction data showed that since the inception of Helping Hippocrates, patients' perceptions of staff's compliance with ID verification showed steady improvement.

Conclusion: Helping Hippocrates demonstrates the value of using an innovative problem-solving strategy that engages the entire organization.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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