New safety precautions aimed at better communication between doctors and patients took effect earlier this year at McDuffie Regional Medical Center, and local hospital officials said they hope the efforts will eliminate any confusion that may pop up in the operating room.
For one, accurate patient identification has been singled out as a cornerstone of the new changes.
"What they want you to do is use two measures or methods to identify your patient but not use the room number. So you can use their medical record number, date of birth, and if they're able they can verbalize their name. You can't use their room number because that room may get turned over a couple of times during the day with admissions and discharges," said MRMC Director of Quality Management Peggy Barmore.
Along those same lines, doctors and nurses are now required to perform a final patient verification before any serious procedure.
"Whenever there is any invasive procedure, you do a timeout, and that's a final verification that this is Mrs. So-and-So, and yes she is having her right knee surgery. It's making sure that it's the right patient, right procedure, right site," said Ms. Barmore.
She added that patients will be prompted to actually mark the surgical site -- with something as simple as a marker -- before they go in for surgery.
"It's just more of a verification with the patient involved," said Ms. Barmore.
The changes were initially developed by the Joint Commission on Healthcare Accreditation, then passed down to its accredited hospitals, including MRMC.
Although these new regulations will require more work on the part of doctors and nurses, Ms. Barmore said they're all going to be beneficial.
"These are all great," she said.
Other changes include the elimination of potentially problematic abbreviations, such as "CCs", which could be misunderstood for zeroes. Also, hospital officials are improving the safety surrounding high alert medications and are taking greater safety precautions with infusion pumps.
Ms. Barmore said that eliminating many of the common medical abbreviations taught in medical school has forced medical professionals to rethink the way they interpret data, but it's a needed and welcomed change.
"You're just changing the way you do things, but it's for the good," she said.