June 17, 2015 | By Zack Budryk
Threats to patient safety such as hospital-acquired infections, patient falls and medical errors make nationwide headlines, but lesser-known safety threats such as dietary errors and hazardous antiseptic products may slip under the radar.
Between January 2009 and June 2014, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority identified 285 dietary errors in healthcare facilities, eight of which resulted in serious patient harm. The most common errors were:
- Serving patients food they were allergic to, which represented 181 of the cases and was the cause for all eight incidents of serious harm
- Providing the patients with food that weren’t on their diets (50 cases)
- Giving patients food meant for other other patients (43 cases)
- Serving food to patients, such as preoperative patients, who were not to receive food by mouth (11 cases)
The Authority interviewed dietary directors and clinical dietitians from around the Keystone State and compiled numerous strategies for preventing such errors. Best practices include written guidance for handling allergies and special diets; continual allergy/special diet education and training for healthcare workers; checking for at least two patient identifiers before delivering a food tray to a patient; and using only listed ingredients for recipes rather than making substitutions.