Sunday, March 11, 2012
Patient and Family Advisory Council
Patient Safety Awareness Week
As a decade of Patient Safety Awareness Week celebrations come to a close, it’s a reminder of what we are actually celebrating. I spoke yesterday at a major metropolitan hospital about the patient’s role in patient safety and we I had an opportunity to meet with their patient and family advisory council’s patient safety committee. Years ago it would not be “safe” to have a community member (who is not on the hospital board of trustees) know that there are errors made in the hospital. Now, it would be unsafe to not have a patient or their family member there, in the trenches, to look, listen and share what is happening.
The participants of this focus group shared their work and even some of their own unplanned outcomes and disappointments in their care. But, what they all had in common is the utmost respect for the facility as well as the people who run it.
How could it not be wonderful for senior administrators to have volunteers who are available to be the eyes and ears of the hospital from the ground up. As a bedside advocate with over 600 hours bedside time, this is really where we can see how errors happen. I remember seeing a nurse stop preparing medication because I asked for a pitcher of water. I have seen how the medicine cart, supposed to be at the patient’s bedside doesn’t fit through the door. I have seen a nurse have a conversation with the wrong patient and a family member correct the chart – no, the surgery will be on the left side, not the right side.
To report these as “near misses” becomes tedious and there is paper work, but patients or community members understanding where things can go wrong can also be a set of eyes and ears to help improve the system.
We've come a long way baby!