R.E.A.C.H. out for patient safety

September 18, 2023

World Patient Safety Day (WPSD), observed annually on 17 September, aims to raise global awareness about patient safety and calls for solidarity and united action by all countries and international partners to reduce patient harm.

The day is one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global public health days, and brings together patients, families, carers, communities, health workers and leaders to show their commitment to patient safety.

The theme for this year is ‘engaging patients for patient safety’ with the slogan ‘elevate the voice of patients.’ Through this slogan, the WHO calls on all stakeholders to take necessary action to ensure that patients are involved in policy formulation, are represented in governance structures, are engaged in co-designing safety strategies and are active partners in their own care.

To encourage patients elevating their voice, Northern Health has an escalation process in place for when patients, families and carers are worried about the clinical deterioration of the patient or loved one. This process is known as R.E.A.C.H. (Recognise, Engage, Act, Call, Help is on its way).

R.E.A.C.H. encourages patients, carers and family members to escalate their concerns with staff about worrying changes in a patient’s condition. When implementing R.E.A.C.H., patients and families are advised to follow the following process:

  • Step 1: Speak to your nurse. Tell them your concerns.
  • Step 2: If you’re still worried, ask your nurse for a “clinical review”. This should occur within 30 minutes.
  • Step 3: If a doctor has seen you or your loved one and you’re still worried, call R.E.A.C.H. on:
    • Broadmeadows Hospital: 1800 897 205
    • Bundoora Centre: 1800 892 126
    • Northern Hospital Epping: 1800 897 216

When making the call, it is important to identify:

  • The bed number you, or the person you care for, is in.
  • Who you are – a patient, family member or carer, or tell them the name of the patient.
  • That you need to call R.E.A.C.H.
  • The name of the ward.

Elise Sutton, Resuscitation and Clinical Deterioration Coordinator, said patients and family members can become aware of the process from a number of avenues throughout the health service.

“Patients and family members can become aware of the process from the posters around the hospital, the number on most patient journey boards and it is provided to them as part of their welcome pack,” she said.

“Staff should also brief the patient on this as part of their admission when providing them with the welcome pack.”

Feedback reports after using the R.E.A.C.H program include:

“R.E.A.C.H. call provided a very good service and the response was excellent, with an outcome straight away.”

“R.E.A.C.H. call was very good, made us feel heard and put our mind at rest.”

 “Family was very happy with service and immediate response. It changed care for their mother.”

“R.E.A.C.H. is like the surf life-saving scenario – where our families and/or caregivers can ‘put their hands in the air’ to signal – or voice. they need help. This voice is so critical to our patient safety efforts,” says Clare McCarthy, Director, Quality Safety and Patient Experience.

Featured image: Elise Sutton, Resuscitation and Clinical Deterioration Coordinator, Clare McCarthy, Director Quality Safety and Patient Experience and Brendon O’Connor, IT Support.