Friday, March 17, 2023

Patient Safety Awareness Week March 2023

Why Safety?

By Aparna Gupta, DNP, FACHE, CPHQ, CRNP

Safety in healthcare is a cure-all – yet how many of us put safety front and center? From wearing seat belts, to washing hands, to crossing the street, the mechanism of safety is (mostly) well entrenched in all of us. Yet when it comes to identifying safety risks, reporting adverse events, or keeping patients and clinicians safe, we are prone to miss the point. The Institute of Medicine has established six domains of healthcare quality – safe, effective, patient centered, timely, efficient, and equitable care .

The first domain is safety. Delivering safe care means that adequate assessments have been done in a consistent, efficient, and equitable manner and that the right patient is receiving care in the right way, at the right time. Which also means that medical waste (unnecessary intervention) is avoided and patient outcomes including the experience of care are optimized. In other words, we accomplish the triple aim – maximize the patient experience of care, quality, reduce cost and enhance outcomes.

But wait, there’s more. What about clinician safety? Our interdisciplinary team members that are in the patients’ homes are exposed to a plethora of risk, the most recent being demonstrated during the COVID pandemic. While these are unsung superheroes, we need to focus on the safety of our staff. Not only physical safety, but psychological safety as well. As much as we need to ensure our staff are protected and feel safe to report any security incidents for their selves, we also need to ensure that the organization nurtures a just culture, whereby staff can “say something” when they “see something”.

It is well known that organizations that focus on a just culture see higher rates of “near miss” reporting – events that could have harmed the patient but didn’t reach the patient just yet. When these organizations make it safe and non-punitive for staff to report near misses, we see better workflows, higher standards of care and better communication between the interdisciplinary team (IDT).

Communication plays a big role in ensuring safety both for  staff and  patients. When the IDT talks to each other and shares important information at the right time and in the right way, the coordination of care reaches a new horizon. Safety tools like SBAR become the language that keeps care focused on the patient and the family.

As we celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week, I cannot help but think of James Reasons Swiss Cheese Model (BMC Health Serv Res. 2005; 5: 71.) which explains how complex functions like taking care of a human being can be simplified when the whole team gets a say, has input, and works together to put patients’ safety first. Let’s keep our patients, our communities and ourselves safe by working together, trusting each other, and leaning on one another. Happy Patient Safety Awareness Week 2023!

About the author:

Aparna Gupta is the Vice President of Quality with National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Aparna is a board-certified adult nurse practitioner and has served in various roles ranging from executive leadership, operations, and clinical care delivery across healthcare. She holds a national certification in healthcare quality and is a Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives.

To learn more from NHPCO about improving your organization's quality and safety, register for the upcoming 2023 Virtual Interdisciplinary Conference.