More and more patient care is being provided in the outpatient – or ambulatory – setting due to financial incentives, clinical innovation and patient preference.1
I am happy to see that the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) chose this year’s “Patient Safety Awareness Week” theme to highlight the importance of improving safety in ambulatory settings. Each year the IHI engages healthcare professionals and patients to help spread the important message of patient safety.
Practicing good hand hygiene is fundamental to patient safety. That is true whether the setting is a hospital, ambulatory surgery center, physician’s office, or other outpatient medical facility. Hand hygiene – using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or washing with soap and water when hands are visibly soiled or contaminated – is one of the most important measures for preventing the spread of pathogens in healthcare facilities.
As hospital inpatient stays have declined 6.6 percent over the past decade, visits to outpatient facilities have increased 14 percent.2 This trend toward providing care in the outpatient setting is likely to continue, so let’s not lose sight of establishing an expectation of safe care in ambulatory settings, just as in hospital settings. (Read this summary guide from the CDC about infection prevention recommendations for outpatient settings.)
We are proud of our ongoing partnership with the CDC Foundation and Staples on an effort to improve hand hygiene in healthcare and community settings, through the Clean Hands Count campaign. Read this CDC Foundation blog post for an update on our efforts.
Learn more about this year’s Patient Safety Awareness week at ihi.org/psaw.