NPO=Know Before You Go

By Carrie Mortrud, RN

Carrie Mortrud, RN

Carrie Mortrud, RN

NPO, know before you go.

NPO=means nothing by mouth. Well, that’s the original and probably most common understanding of the Latin term, nil per os. We’ve also adopted another use for the acronym, New Patient Orientation.  Whether you are a new patient or one who’s been in and out of hospitals your whole life, nurses believe there are a few things you should know to better your odds at getting the quality patient care you deserve.Here’s a link to download a copy of a quick cheat sheet or list of ten things nurses want you to know.  While you might be thinking, why do I have to know things, isn’t that why I’m going in to the hospital?  Isn’t it to have someone else take care of and “fix” me?  I wish it was as simple as that.

The truth is there are many things that hospitals and their “patient representatives” don’t tell you before you’re admitted – even for a scheduled procedure.  Sure, they tell you where to park, what door to go in, and when to stop eating, but you don’t know the simple things that literally could save your life.

Take #7 for example on the card:  “To prevent infections you should be turned every 1-2 hours.”

If you find yourself unable to turn or move around in bed by yourself, you should be scheduled to and actually be moved, repositioned or turned in bed, every 1-2 hours. If you are not, your skin begins to breakdown and you can develop sores and infections. If you find that you are not, please talk with your nurse and if necessary ask to speak with your patient representative. Most hospitals employ a person who’s job it is to be your representative.

What happens when these simple measures of safe, quality care are not followed?  Patients come back.  They’re readmitted, and then the hospitals are actually fined by the federal government.  Last year,  17 hospitals in Minnesota are being penalized by Medicare this year by having their reimbursement reduced by 1% because they were cited as having too many patient safety issues.   That total doesn’t include veterans’ or children’s hospitals or smaller hospitals, also called “critical access hospitals.”  These 17 hospitals either had too many incidents of patient falls, potentially avoidable infections and complications such as blood clots, bed sores and hospital acquired infections.  This is from the announcement from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Medicare is lowering its 2016 payments by 1 percent for 758 hospitals with high rates of potentially avoidable infections and complications such as blood clots, bed sores and falls. This is the second year of the Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program, which was mandated by the federal health law to reduce patient injuries.”

These incidents that hospitals are being cited and penalized for aren’t things out of the ordinary, or rare-never in a million years could that occur again or simple human mistakes.  These are situations that research and experts in the health care field believe that with better “care” can be avoided and maybe all together eliminated.

Please download a card, or 10 and pass them out to all your family and friends.  Here’s to your health and a quality stay……

Patient Story

Your Patient Stories Over the past few weeks, you've been sending us stories about your experiences in Minnesota hospitals.  We've heard them, and we think others should, too.  By sharing your patient experience with us, you can help us promote a safe nurse-to-patient ratio at all Minnesota hospitals.
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