May 21, 2020
By Kayla Welty
In healthcare, technology issues and communication problems can lead to more than an inconvenience or a slight business interruption. They can lead to treatment delays, medication errors, falls, or even sentinel events (unanticipated incidents resulting in death or serious physical or psychological damage).
Sentinel events can be debilitating to patients, families, and care providers. In addition to their health and emotional impacts, the financial effects can be devastating as well. But there’s good news: Many times, they can be prevented. According to 2018 data from The Joint Commission, more than 11% of sentinel events can be connected to communication errors.
Technology can help you avoid communication issues in healthcare environments – as long as that technology is working correctly. For this reason, making sure your nurse call systems always operate at 100% should be at the top of your list – especially when it comes to supporting patient-staff communication and safety.
Regular testing and inspection of your nurse call system can help pinpoint problems before they impact care or staff productivity – whether it’s a patient who can’t hear the TV monitor, a nurse who isn’t being informed when a patient presses the call button … or something more critical.
A few years ago, we conducted a nurse call system inspection for a large hospital. During this process, we encountered a NICU code blue system that wasn’t working properly. The issue was quickly corrected and re-tested to ensure proper performance. Just a few days later, the NICU staff had to use that same code blue alert system. Thanks to the hospital’s dedication to nurse call testing and inspections, the alert system responded exactly as expected and the pediatric patient received immediate help.
The Basics of Nurse Call System Testing & Inspections
To minimize disruption, we recommend that annual nurse call system tests and inspections be done in conjunction with your other annual services, including fire alarm system tests and inspections. Combining these services saves you time and money – and limits disruption inside your facility.
Similar to fire alarm testing, where comprehensive data is gathered on every device inspected, the same holds true for testing and inspecting nurse call systems. The process reveals malfunctioning devices and their specific locations, the reason for their failure, and proposed solutions to address the issue, as well as recalls on devices in the field. Once inspections are complete, you have 24/7 online access to the data.
From patient room stations to nurses’ station consoles, annual testing and inspection can verify proper performance of each nurse call system component, including:
- Lights and lighting controls
- TV controls
- Pillow speakers
- Handheld communications
- Button functions (cancel, code, staff assist, etc.)
- Staff terminals
- Audio and tones
- Corridor lights and patterns
Not only do tests and inspections verify that these components work, but the process also confirms that the components convey the correct information. For example: Can the correct tone be heard in the places it needs to be? Did the system indicate the correct room number? These are just some of the many questions we can help with.
If you have any questions about nurse call system testing and inspections, or you’re wondering if your system needs to be checked, send me a note. I’m happy to answer your questions!
Part of the CEC team since 2015, Kayla Welty is the service sales manager. Her No. 1 priority is helping healthcare, manufacturing, and K-12 organizations keep their people safe.