Bathroom Blogfest 2010: Hospitals, Bathrooms, Real-Time Locating Systems (RTLS) and Preventing Patient Falls…My company, Awarepoint, delivers real-time locating systems to hospitals. These systems, dubbed RTLS, provide an indoor locating system (think of them as indoor GPS) for hospitals to track medical equipment, patients and staff members. Hospitals, bathrooms and real-time locating systems – what could possibly be the connection?
One of the challenges hospital nurses face every day is the need to reduce the risk of patient injuries from falls. Although the incidents of patient falls in hospitals are low, the consequences can be serious. At a recent healthcare conference I heard a former Emergency Room nurse speak. She was presenting on the topic of using technology to improve patient care in hospitals, and specifically, on the benefits of real-time locating systems in hospitals. In discussing patient safety issues, she talked about how RTLS technology can be used to send reminders to nurses to cue them to visit patients every hour. This happens to be one the best practices for preventing patient falls.
Why would an hourly visit by a nurse help prevent patient falls? And what does that have to do with bathrooms?
Well, one of the biggest fall hazards in hospitals are patients who try to climb out of bed on their own to get to the bathroom. Some don’t want to “bother” the nurse by asking for help, others may be under the influence, or have mental health issues. Studies show that by visiting a patient room every hour, nurses can regularly check on the patients’ needs using the “4 Ps” - positioning, personal needs (sometime they actually call this “p” “pee” ), pain and proximity of personal items.
There's another aspect of Hospitals, Bathrooms and RTLS worth addressing; it relates to the equipment patients use when they can't physically make it to a bathroom.
In addition to sending reminders to nurses, RTLS technology helps nurses find the equipment they need when they need it to care for patients. They simply log onto a computer, type in the equipment they are looking form, and voila! its location pops up on a map of the hospital floor they’re on. Pretty cool, huh? Guess what? In looking at the top items nurses ask to be tagged, we find bedside commodes top the list!
Preventing patient falls and helping nurses to find the equipment they need, RTLS plays a vital role at hospitals in addressing bathroom needs and patients’ “4 Ps.”
So, in the spirit of the Bathroom Blogfest 2010, I share with you a quick look at bedside commodes, or hospital “bedpans” as we non-clinical folks still call them, through the eyes of Bedpan collector, Erik Eakin.