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Hospital's error rate on par with peers

Henry County Health Center is doing as well as or better than its peers in the areas of patient falls, medication error rate and heart attacks, according to director of patient services Ann Corrigan.

Wristbands, stickers and placards are commonly used to identify allergy warnings, fall risks, or do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders to hospital staff. The problem is, until recently, these colors were not standardized from one hospital to the next in 22 states, including Iowa.

The Iowa Healthcare Collaborative hopes to change that. IHC recently initiated the decision to standardize color-coded alerts among hospitals that already use color-coded wristbands, such as HCHC.

The color of the wristband on a patient treated by a part-time nurse at Henry County Health Center in Mt. Pleasant may indicate a completely different condition than when the nurse drives over to West Burlington and treats patients at her other job at Great River Medical Center, said Corrigan.

"Standardizing the colors that hospitals use to alert staff to certain patient risks is a common-sense approach to improving patient safety," said the American Hospital Association in a September 2008 quality advisory.

Red will be used for allergy, yellow for fall risk, and purple for do-not-resuscitate. Iowa joins 28 other states already color-coding their wristbands as such.

IHC will provide an online toolkit designed to assist hospitals in implementing the color-coding standardization by early 2009. IHC can be found online at www.ihconline.org.

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