Quality improvement teams focus on improving the safety of hospitalized patients. Common problems undergoing scrutiny include (1) avoiding slips and falls, (2) ensuring accurate administration of prescribed medications, and (3) recognizing the warning signs of clinical deterioration prior to full-fledged cardiopulmonary arrest. Clever strategies are under development to deal with these dangerous situations: (1) strict protocols for raising bed rails and automated bed alarms that sound when at-risk patients attempt to get out of bed unassisted, (2) electronic bar coding of prescribed medications in conjunction with bar coding of patient identification wristbands, and (3) rapid-response teams (rather than “code teams”) that can be activated by the staff nurse at the first clinical sign of trouble.
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