Web site spotlight: Improve patient safety with communication and awareness

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, March 20, 2009

Ensuring patient safety is one of the most vital and challenging jobs in healthcare today. Organizations such as the Institute of Medicine recommend healthcare professionals strive to create a culture of safety and report medical errors without fearing their reports will be used against them.

Facilities can improve patient safety by partnering with patients, families, and the community. Key themes in accomplishing this are awareness, education, and participation. Facilities should provide multimedia education outlining why certain practices such as site-marking, positive patient identification, hand hygiene, and the five rights of medication safety, are performed in the hospital.

In addition, facilities can encourage patient and family participation by asking them to remind staff to perform basic patient safety practices (e.g., hand hygiene and positive patient identification) as a form of peer accountability.

Although many organizations oppose posting patient safety performance measures on their Web site or in their staff newsletter, it is vital for an organization to be transparent to improve the patient safety culture. This helps organizations learn from mistakes by transporting root causes and action plans across departments and professional groups.

Organizations that hide their faults tend to make the same mistakes or have the same sentinel events occur repeatedly. Improved patient safety is achieved faster and more effectively when everyone works together.

Editor’s note: This excerpt was adapted from “Improve patient safety performance with your patient safety officerfound in the Reading Room at Get a free trial membership that will give you 30 days to test drive all the exciting features on the Web site.

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