Since fostering a culture of patient safety requires the insight and effort of all BWHers, the Sept. 12 Quality Rounds, titled “Our Culture of Safety,” took an interactive approach.
In the first lecture of the academic year, BWH Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Mairead Hickey, PhD, RN, shared the importance of a culture of safety at BWH, while posing questions to attendees in Bornstein Amphitheater.
“We have made major strides in looking at and understanding the environment in which our patients receive care,” said Hickey. “Our new focus is to ensure there is a culture of safety at BWH.”
When asked what a culture of safety looks like, BWHers shared their ideas, including the feeling of physical and emotional well-being among staff, team training, effective communication among all employees and proper follow-up to concerns.
Hickey summarized the group’s comments and underscored that a culture of safety encourages open and honest communication and feedback from all staff and responsiveness to concerns by leadership.
“If we really want to provide the very best care to our patients and families, it is essential for us to be open to seeing and hearing about issues that may be detrimental to our patient’s experiences,” she said. “The literature suggests that when staff work in an environment where there is a perception of good interdisciplinary communication, the mortality rate of patients actually decreases.”
Culture Survey, Safety Matters
Hickey also discussed the ways BWH already works to measure and advance its culture of patient safety, such as last fall’s patient safety culture survey, which had an overall response rate of 71 percent. She mentioned Safety Matters, BWH’s monthly newsletter that presents cases of real errors that occurred at BWH and details the ways BWH is ensuring the error does not happen again. She said the idea to publish our errors was not embraced by everyone initially, but the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
“Patients and staff feel safer when we openly address our concerns; they are reassured when they know we are transparent and investing in improvement,” said Hickey.
The remainder of Quality Rounds focused on the results of last fall’s patient safety culture survey, divided into inpatient and ambulatory responses. BWHers’ inpatient ratings met or nearly met the national patient safety median in the following categories: teamwork within units, supervisor actions promoting safety, organizational learning and overall perceptions of patient safety. Ambulatory ratings met or surpassed the national median in teamwork, overall perceptions of patient safety and quality, staff training, frequency of patient safety and quality issues, leadership support for patient safety and information exchange with other settings. The greatest areas for improvement were non-punitive response to error and hospital handoffs among inpatient units, and work pressure and pace in ambulatory.
“Our goal is to achieve an 80 percent rating on each category in the survey,” said Hickey. “We’ll be addressing key areas for improvement at the institution and unit levels, along with training and education to understand why this is so important at BWH.”