How not to treat a patient

SARANAC LAKE – Carl wasn’t exactly well taken care of during his visit to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake this week.

He spent most of Wednesday laying flat and uncovered in his hospital bed amid a twisting web of IV and oxygen tubes, none of which was properly connected. A container of betadine solution, which he’s allergic to, sat next to him on the bed. His wrists were restrained to the bed railing with strips of fabric. A few steps away, an open jug of urine sat on the table next to his lunch.

Still, Carl didn’t complain. He couldn’t. He’s a dummy.

Adirondack Health officials used Carl this week to educate their staff as part of Patient Safety Awareness Week, a national education campaign. They set up a room that was littered with all kinds of safety issues, with Carl serving as their mock patient.

“We opened the room at 6 a.m. this morning, and it will run all day,” said Linda McClarigan, Adirondack Health’s chief nursing officer. “We’ve asked our staff – everybody from environmental services to nursing, pharmacy, students and supplies management – to take a clipboard, go in and find 30 things wrong with this room. Their name will be put in for a drawing and a prize at the end of the week. It’s educational, and it’s fun.”

“This kind of highlights a lot of different things we do without thinking to help keep patients safe,” said Mim Millar, the hospital’s infection preventionist and patient safety officer. “It’s hard to do the wrong thing. We had to think, ‘What do we do that’s right?’ so we could reverse it and do it wrong.”

In addition to the demonstration with Carl, hospital staff marked Patient Safety Awareness Week with a series of initiatives in each department to improve patient care, dubbed the Peak of Excellence awards. A pair of educational bulletin boards, for staff and visitors, were also set up near the hospital’s lobby.

Millar said this week’s attention to patient safety isn’t just a one-time thing.

“It’s what we do all year long,” she said.

“Safety, quality and satisfaction for our patients – those are the three things we strive to meet every day,” said McClarigan.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or