Jason Setnyk

Progress in Patient Safety at Cornwall Community Hospital

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Cornwall Ontario – The Cornwall Community Hospital is focused on patient safety. More than one-third of seniors experience falls, which can have a devastating physical and psychological impact, resulting in disability, chronic pain, loss of independence, reduced quality of life, and even death. Falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors and also contribute to a significant burden on the healthcare system. Direct healthcare costs for falls in Canada are estimated at $2 billion annually.

In September 2015, the Cornwall Community Hospital learned about some deficiencies in our Falls Prevention Program through its Accreditation Process (where independent surveyors evaluate the quality, patient safety aspects of the day to day hospital operations). Hospital staff had great success at assessing our in-patients for risk, but the program needed to be broadened to include patients in the Emergency Department. Reassessments were also required while patients transitioned during their hospital stay.

The Cornwall Community Hospital’s falls committee introduced new standards and documentation tools to their fall prevention program. The initiative was a huge undertaking; staff had to be trained on new standards for fall prevention and screening. Time is limited in areas like the Emergency Department, (ED), so the outpatient risk assessment was designed to be quick and straightforward for triage nurses to complete.

Post fall huddles were introduced and a documentation checklist was added to all in-patient charts. “This makes it so much easier for nurses to document and implement strategies to prevent falls” said fellow RPN on JMP 2. Now, caregivers can refer to standard guidelines and tools, making falls screening and prevention consistent from patient to patient.

In March 2016, CCH received official notification from Accreditation Canada that their new falls prevention program met all the requirements which was a huge milestone for the organization. More importantly, the Cornwall Community Hospital has effectively reduced the number of patient falls by a whopping 24%! Ultimately, the changes provide consistency in patient care and that is improving patient safety. “Our falls prevention program is just one of our strategies to realize our vision of “Exceptional Care. Always.”,” explains CEO Jeanette Despatie.