In recent years, the news has been full of stories about medical errors and the serious – even deadly – impact they may have. Although many people are familiar with stories about errors that occur during hospitalization, some of the most common errors occur after patients have been discharged. These errors are due largely to communication errors between doctors and patients, primarily occurring when patients misunderstand discharge instructions, don’t follow instructions correctly or forget them entirely. In fact, a recent study from Yale-New Haven Hospital revealed that three out of four patients left the hospital with incorrect prescriptions or did not understand the medications and their dosing instructions.
In a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers found that half the patients in their study had medication errors following discharge, 23% of which were serious and 2% which were life-threatening. That study’s author, Dr. Jeffrey Schnipper, said he believes the key to preventing such errors is better communication.
“We assume if people talk a good game, they understand the instructions, but it’s not always the case,” Schnipper said in an interview with Harvard Health Publications.
Of course, one of the risks for healthcare companies is that when errors like these occur, the healthcare company may be left open to costly litigation. Even when negligence can’t be proven, reputations can be damaged when news of the case reaches the community.
Today, many hospitals and healthcare companies are taking extra steps to improve communication, not just at discharge but throughout the entire inpatient and outpatient treatment processes. One of the keys to better communication with patients is providing them with a system designed to help them understand and organize their healthcare-related information.
Accordion folders branded with your healthcare company’s name and logo provide a takeaway package that does double-duty, promoting your brand and helping to provide an additional level of protection for both patients and your company. Here are three ways your company can take advantage of the benefits offered by accordion folders:
A typical discharge is a busy event, which is probably why so many patients misunderstand the instructions they’re given. Once instructions are explained, discharge information sheets, including information about prescriptions, aftercare instructions, follow-up directions and emergency contact instructions can be included in the pockets of the folder, each of which can be clearly labeled to avoid confusion and make it easy for patients to find what they need. In addition to providing a useful tool for patients, a discharge folder can help provide evidence of a high standard of care.
Like the discharge kit, an admittance kit is an ideal way to help patients take greater control of their care and to feel more empowered. Individual pockets can be devot
ed to information about the hospital itself, insurance and other payment-related information,
contact numbers for specific departments or personnel – even information about the hospital meal plan and menu or patient services like television, gift shop purchases, massage or other services. A separate pocket can be used for visitor information, like visiting hours, gift shop hours and cafeteria hours.
Medical records organizing tool
Accordion folders are also the perfect tools for patients to organize their personal medical records. Pockets can be divided by year, by doctor, by medical issue or by another method that suits the patient and makes it easy for them to keep track of their healthcare history.
No matter what the business, every customer values a company that makes their lives easier, and that’s what an accordion folder does. The versatility of accordion folders makes them ideal for creating a useful takeaway package that clearly reflects the healthcare company’s brand. That means customers identify your company and its brand as being helpful and invested in their personal needs and lives.
Beyond promoting your brand, though, an accordion folder provides a record of care that helps protect the healthcare company should the need arise. Toward that end, having a patient sign a form indicating they’ve received their folder upon admission or discharge is a wise additional step to consider taking.
Considering the benefits accordion folders can provide as well as their low cost, it’s easy to see how branded folders can be one of the most cost-effective purchases your healthcare company can make.