Once you have evaluated change and benchmarked data to find areas for improvement, the job is not finished, nor does the organization stop its patient safety efforts. This is a never-ending process and organizations must always continue its efforts to improve the quality of care being provided in order to promote patient safety and prevent patient harm. Organizations can ensure that patient safety efforts become second nature by doing such things as:
- Making patient safety an agenda item at every board meeting, at every quality, risk and patient safety-related committee meeting, and at quarterly medical staff meetings.
- Requiring the multidisciplinary participation of representatives from the medical staff, clinical and ancillary departments, as well as nutritional and environmental services on patient safety subcommittees, task forces, and work groups.
- Communicating analyses and relevant findings based on data review at every opportunity.
- Rewarding staff for participating in patient safety initiatives, letting them determine what those rewards should be.
- Tooting your own horns! When something is working, share it with as many folks as possible, and as often as possible. Praise staff for being innovative and willing to try new ideas, publish successes through newsletters, storyboards, posters, and flyers or ask information technology department to develop screen savers.
Once this data is collected, problems are identified, and solutions are developed and implemented, it is essential that this information be shared across the continuum of care, presented to all hospital personnel as well as to the medical staff, managers and department heads, senior leadership, and the governing body. By providing folks with feedback, whether positive or negative, staff is made aware of the bigger picture: the potential impact these types of events can have to the entire organization, what the impact to the individuals involved was, what actions were taken to prevent similar events from recurring, and what their individual roles and responsibilities are in this process.
-Vivian B. Miller, BA, CPHQ, LHRM, CPHRM, FASHRM