Monday, May 6, 2013

Hospitals That Do it Right - Patient Safety is Priority

Finding Perfection

I just had the opportunity at a meeting to learn of hospitals that are doing such extraordinary work improving bad outcomes that they are winning awards and sharing their information.   Finding and sharing solutions is important to the industry to learn the best way to save lives, save money and improve the care and satisfaction of patients. 
Over the years I have heard that it is “almost impossible” to avoid all hospital acquired infections or injuries, but more and more I am learning that this is not true.  Those hospitals that are willing to work hard at changing the culture of staff and even the patients and their families will be able to reduce injuries.  It’s not impossible, it is hard work and we, as patients must demand perfection. 
The people who work in the hospital usually know what needs to be done.  But, on many levels there is a breakdown of either communication or people get too comfortable and forget proper procedures – as simple as hand hygiene.  As I sat on a bus with a physician following this meeting, I shared with her that the bus driver knows what he is supposed to do.  He knows that he needs to be well rested, stop at stop signs and drive the speed limit.  He can either choose to follow these behaviors……or not.  There is nothing we, as the customer can do to change what he will decide while we are in motion.  Why then are we, as patients expected to remind hospital staff to wash their hands, mark the site of surgery or make sure we are getting the correct medication?
A nurse at one of the hospitals that shared their stories, caught that a medication, meant for a small child was about to be given an adult dose.  The medication error went through numerous check points with many opportunities to be caught.  But, because this nurse stopped to check every medication as she was trained to do, this child’s life may have been saved.
The speakers all agreed that the change must come from the top.  Senior leadership willing to go to the end with a patient safety agenda that demands perfection, willing to fire people who don’t comply and reward those who do.
I still believe it must come from the customer too.  We must demand that it can be done and do what we can to share the information when we see something done correctly.

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