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New hospital procedures in Andalucía: Coloured wrist bands and door staff
HEALTH authorities in the southern region of Andalucía will 'tag' patients in hospitals in different colours to 'classify' them by condition in a bid to keep them safe and ensure they are attended to correctly.
Entries and exits from all Andalucía hospitals will be monitored to prevent patients who decide to discharge themselves from leaving without telling anyone first.
Coloured wrist bands will make sure that anyone who needs treating urgently will be seen to as a priority and their conditions are known about if they are 'fragile and vulnerable', 'cannot speak' and 'attend hospitals on their own'.
Regional health authorities have held urgent meetings to review procedures, especially in A&E departments, allowing them to keep a closer eye on patients.
Two very serious and avoidable incidents have raised the alarm recently – a 64-year-old woman who was left unattended for 12 hours in A&E in San Juan Hospital in Úbeda (Jaén province) and a man aged just 44 who had suffered a stroke and waited five hours to be seen in hospital in Antequera (Málaga province) both died within weeks of each other.
To prevent such unnecessary tragedies from recurring, Andalucía hospitals will ensure all patients are closely watched by designated staff from the moment they are admitted to A&E, and regular rounds will be carried out in waiting areas.
Patients with more 'delicate' conditions will be grouped together, and wrist bands in different colours will include each patient's name and identification details.
New procedures will include active searches for patients in A&E who cannot be found when called, and security guards at the exits, since on many occasions, those who feel they have waited long enough walk out without telling anyone – but this cannot be assumed, as they may have collapsed in the toilets or suffered another serious incident.
Telephone numbers of patients and those who accompany them will be taken down, and even a radio-frequency localisation system may be set up.
Also, health authorities have called for the public to 'respect the rules' about the number of companions a patient may have – one at a time in A&E – since large groups of family members often go along with the sick person and get in the way of staff doing their jobs.
Patients attending emergency walk-in clinics have risen by 16.6%, to over 700,000, and in hospital casualty departments, by 19.4% to more than 400,000, between December 1 and mid-January, based upon figures from the same period a year ago.
Attendances were particularly high during the holiday weeks from Christmas Day to January 7.
Regional authorities have taken on another 1,100 doctors and nurses and improved working conditions for existing staff who, instead of merely working night shifts, have been taking on day shifts in addition.
Photograph: Costa del Sol Hospital in Málaga
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