This week is Patient Safety Awareness Week, a time to reflect on the importance of safety in health care. In every aspect of the continuum of care there is risk for harm to a patient or a health care team member. This is not new. In fact, in the United States, medical errors are a leading cause of death with nearly 400,000 deaths each year due to errors or preventable harm. But not all harm results in death. Some patients or team members experience temporary or long-term harm that impacts their physical, emotional or financial health. For more than two decades, the health care industry has been on a journey to improve safety. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shed a bright light on the need to fix, once and for all, the persistent safety issues in health care.
In order to prioritize patient safety, four key areas must be present:
· Culture, Leadership, and Governance
· Patient and Family Engagement
· Workforce Safety
· Continuous Learning.
First, safety must be a core value of all health care organizations. Because safety is deeply rooted in organizational culture, the time is now for leaders to foster an unwavering commitment to EVERYONE SAFE, EVERY DAY. We must fully engage with our patients and their families in their care. To know them, the whole them.
Additionally, leaders need to address the stigma associated with self-care that exists in health care and promote self-care and help-seeking behaviors for our workforce. We must foster work environments that are safe EVERY DAY — physically and emotionally.
How Are We Speaking Up For Safer Care
At SaferCare Texas our mission is to eliminate preventable harm. We work every day to educate, train, and identify opportunities to eliminate medical errors to assure all patients receive the safest care. Below are several of our resources and programs that we use to speak up for safer care.
Our Asthma 411 program is a comprehensive evidence-based program that equips school nurses with the necessary training and resources to quickly respond to a child in respiratory distress.
With a physician’s standing orders, a school nurse can quickly assess a student who is having difficulty breathing and administer nebulized albuterol to help the child breathe better.
In collaboration with public school districts and schools, Asthma 411 staff members track attendance information and other data to validate the program’s effectiveness. We work with the district to use those data to generate state-mandated reports.
Moms need help too! After having a baby, there is a lot to think about for new moms. Our app makes life a little easier. The What About Mom? app shows postpartum moms how to take care of their health. Check it out.
Health literacy is a major driver of patient safety at SaferCare Texas. If health care professionals don’t communicate with patients correctly, they can do more harm than good. The C.LA.S. standards course, led by our health literacy subject matter expect, Dr. Teresa Wagner, teaches health care professionals how to provide culturally competent care for patients and clients.
Telehealth has become a standard in health care today, but in rural health it brings several challenges: Wifi issues, connectivity, technology devices, limited access to local providers. We have partnered with Pottsboro library to help community members easily access health care.
Additionally, we are working with Titus Regional Medical Center to bring health literacy to rural areas. Stay tuned for our upcoming workshops and training.
Patient Safety Organization
We are currently working on creating the first ever “Medical Office Patient Safety Organization.” According to AHRQ, Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) collect and analyze data voluntarily reported by healthcare providers to help improve patient safety and healthcare quality. PSOs provide feedback to healthcare providers aimed at promoting learning and preventing future patient safety events. Working with a PSO makes it possible for information from healthcare providers to receive certain legal protections and to be contributed to the Network of Patient Safety Databases (NPSD).
Stay tuned for progress reports and updates.
Now It’s Your Turn to Speak Up For Safer Care
During Patient Safety Awareness Week, we challenge you to think of one thing that you can do to improve safety in your workplace. It might be something simple like committing to improve your communication. Communication errors are almost always a contributing factor in adverse events including events that result in harm.
You can also join our #SpeakUpForSaferCare campaign. We would love to hear what you end up doing to help eliminate harm.
Have questions? Contact us today to learn how you can be a part of the patient safety community.
Author: Tracy Chamblee
PHD, APRN, PCNS-BC, CPHQ, CPPS
Clinical Executive, SaferCare Texas