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Safety Modules

February 2017



These modules consist of Issue Briefs, Backgrounders, and Top Design Strategies, and were created as a supplement to the Safety Risk Assessment toolkit. The toolkit is not intended to guarantee a safe environment; the environment is one part of a safety solution that includes operational policies, procedures, and behavior. It is intended for use with the collaborative input of project- and facility-based expertise.


Behavioral Health Module

Design to mitigate self-harm and harm against others for people with behavioral health symptoms range from large-scale decisions (e.g., site design) to more detailed decisions (e.g., door hinges). However, even small details can affect the layout, so it is helpful to be aware of all considerations in the early stages of the project. It is also important to understand where one decision may be a tradeoff with another, such as bathroom privacy and visibility. Note that safety is not necessarily improved by a “score” derived from the use of a particular number of features. To read more, click on the associated purple bar above.

Falls Module

Falls were one of 28 medical errors identified by the National Quality Forum as a “never event”: unambiguous, serious, and usually preventable. In 2008, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ceased reimbursement for certain injuries associated with hospital falls. Risk factors for falls include intrinsic and extrinsic conditions—those related to the individual, and those outside of the individual, including the environment. To read more, click on the associated purple bar above.

Infection Prevention Module

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are defined as infections that patients acquire during the process of receiving care in healthcare facilities. Among the most common complications in U.S. healthcare, HAIs directly contribute to the deaths of ten of thousands of patients and cost billions of dollars every year, despite being largely preventable. Mounting research evidence indicates that the physical environment of healthcare facilities plays a significant role in infection prevention. To read more, click on the associated purple bar above.

Medication Safety Module

Medication errors, the most common medical error, may adversely impact healthcare outcomes, as indicated in Institute of Medicine reports such as “Crossing the Quality Chasm” and “To Err Is Human.”  It was estimated that between 380,000 and 450,000 preventable adverse drug events (ADEs) occurred annually in U.S. hospitals. ADEs refer to any injuries resulting from medication use, including physical harm, mental harm, or loss of life. ADEs have been found to directly contribute to increased morbidity and mortality, prolonged hospitalizations, and higher costs of care. To read more, click on the associated purple bar above.

Patient Handling Module

Patient handling and movement (PHAM) activities, including lifting, transferring, positioning, and sliding patients without assistive technology, are an essential component of healthcare. However, manual patient handling and movement often introduce safety risks to both staff (e.g., musculoskeletal injuries) and patients (e.g., pressure ulcers, skin tears, depression). These safety risks can result in financial consequences for the organization (e.g., lost time, replacing injured staff, workers’ compensation). To mitigate the risks associated with patient handling and movement, many healthcare organizations have engaged in safe patient handling programs including policy changes, ergonomic assessments, education, and environmental interventions. To read more, click on the associated purple bar above.

Security Module

In the context of preventing harm and loss in healthcare settings, there is a relationship between safety and security. Safety is often associated with accidents (inadvertent harm), whereas security is often associated with a conscious decision or intent to cause harm. However, since accidents and disasters are both security-related events, security concerns can be seen as spanning a range from intentional harm (e.g., burglary, arson) to unintentional harm (e.g., natural or man-made disasters, accidental fire). To read more, click on the associated purple bar above.


Toolbox Topics