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Project Encourages Families to be Involved in Patient Care

The simplest and seemingly smallest actions can prove to be beneficial in protecting critically ill patients from developing deadly infections and other serious complications of treatment. If a family member is aware that these small actions are critical, he or she can help ensure that the patient gets all of the care and attention that is needed by advocating on the patient's behalf.

Patients are entitled to a certain standard of care. Unfortunately, medical negligence occurs quite often and it is the patients who suffer the consequences. Fortunately, at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, a $9 million project is blending technology and the ability of the sick and their family members to avoid some very common medically negligent mishaps.

The concept of this project from a technological perspective is to draft a patient safety board that resembles a car's dashboard. According to a Johns Hopkins' University patient safety expert, at the moment, the safety and quality of care of the patients mainly depends on health care workers. However, the people who recognize the initial warning signs of any kind of negligence are usually the patients and their families.

Insufficient communication between health care providers and families of patients can be detrimental to the patient. If the family suspects that the patient is not receiving the correct quality of care, there are people who can help. Families can use this new patient safety dashboard to alert healthcare providers should critical steps in care remain neglected.

It can be challenging to engage the patient and family at times. Generally, people, including patients and their families, are reluctant to ask questions of doctors. However, if hospitals are successful in involving a patient's family in the treatment, this will prove to be beneficial for both the patient and the hospital. Family engagement should be increasingly encouraged and trainings should be provided to family members to take care of their loved ones.

Source: USA Today, "Project taps engineers, families for hospital safety," Lauran Neergaard, Aug. 28, 2012

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