February 22nd, 2017

Robot-like TeleSitters with cameras and two-way audio capability are now deployed at John Peter Smith Hospital, keeping eyes on patients at risk for “never events” such as falls.

TeleSittersIn the first seven months of TeleSitter deployment, falls decreased 13 percent, with zero reported injuries, according to a report being presented at the annual meeting of the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) in March. Hours of constant patient observation increased by 42 percent, increasing patient safety. Hours worked by patient sitters dropped 21 percent, decreasing cost.

Patient sitters, usually certified nurse assistants (CNAs,) work to reduce falls and other untoward events categorized by the federal government as “never events.” Medicare no longer pays for care associated with “never events,” which also are reported on public Web sites.

Nursing “never events” also include injuries associated with elopement (when a patient disappears,) pressure ulcers and self-harm such as pulling out catheters. Patients with dementia are at risk, but many people behave out of character when under the influence of pain killers and other medications.

“Sitter issues are everybody’s issues,” said Krystle Gandhi, director of Clinical Informatics/Operations, who is presenting at an AONE session with Trudy Sanders, vice president of Patient Care, and Elisabeth Rodgers, clinical coordinator of fall prevention.

TeleSitter Central Video StationA core group of patient sitters has been trained to monitor as many as 10 Telesitters simultaneously from a central video station. If the monitor sees fall-risk patients trying to get out of bed, he or she can talk to the patient through the TeleSitter, reminding them to wait for assistance.

Oftentimes, Gandhi said, the sitter’s voice coming through the TeleSitter’s speaker is enough to help the patient reorient and wait for help. If not, then the monitor can alert the patient’s nurse to go immediately to the room.

Ten TeleSitters, the core of Michigan-based AvaSure’s AvaSys TeleSitter system, are deployed on critical care and medical-surgical floors. The system, says Gandhi, “has already paid for itself.”

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