This week, March 14-20, 2021, marks the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI’s) annual recognition of Patient Safety Awareness Week. Dr. Karla Miller, HCA Healthcare’s chief patient safety officer, shares the vital safety science work patient safety leaders are championing across the organization to live our mission every day.
I am so proud of what HCA Healthcare colleagues accomplish each and every day to reduce harm and provide safe care for our patients. I support IHI’s statement that this week “serves as a dedicated time and platform for growing awareness about patient safety and recognizing the work already being done.”
Each of our facilities are practicing daily safety huddles, a practice gleaned from high-reliability organizations, which provide an opportunity to share learnings and communicate needs.
Mary Jensen, the director of patient safety & risk management at affiliate Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, values their safety huddles and shares some thoughts about these daily touchpoints.
Huddles provide the opportunity for facility leaders to continuously evolve to meet the needs of their colleagues, patients and community. The forum also creates opportunity to share great catches and close calls with leaders. Close calls are events or situations that, only by chance, did not produce patient harm. Reporting of close calls allows facilities to intervene and correct weaknesses in processes or systems before harm occurs. Patient care improves as a result, with root cause analysis process improvements and nurturing a culture of safety.
“Beginning with good catches or positive feedback allows us to connect to purpose every day,” said Mary. “The focus can then easily pivot to address global needs while continuing to support individual department safety needs.”
“Huddles at Swedish Medical Center demonstrate closed loop communication among our leaders. They promote follow-up and escalate any outstanding barriers to the forefront,” Mary adds.
The daily organizational huddle builds situational awareness and identifies safety critical issues. Using evidence base practice via the STEPS (Safety-Throughput-Environment-People-Service Recovery) approach, our colleagues at Swedish Medical Center proactively optimize patient safety. The newly integrated NASH (NATE for Safety Huddles) tool, built on the NATE platform, further supports improved reliable outcomes through making safety visible to all, allowing for cross departmental support and directs mitigation efforts to where it is most needed.
Another benefit of safety huddles is building trust within care teams. Trust and psychological safety is vital in order for a culture of safety to flourish. When a culture is psychologically safe, people are able to speak up and “stop the line.” Recognizing the value of personal safety and each individual’s intrinsic worth are key in lifting a successful care experience framework and care excellence agenda.
A new colleague that I am so excited to welcome to the organization ― and is integral to this work — is Ryan Sledge. Ryan is the new vice president of workforce health and safety for HCA Healthcare. His unique and focused role offers a real opportunity to bring together those successes with the learnings from across the HCA Healthcare organization, coordinating the work of teams, enterprise-wide, serving a variety of audiences.
In his new role within the Clinical Operations Group, Sledge will partner across teams – both clinical and non-clinical including human resources, infection prevention, HCI, and performance improvement – to ensure our caregivers receive great care, allowing them to focus their passion and energy on providing great care.
I appreciate all of our teams working together – supported by incredible patient safety leaders enterprise-wide – to deliver the safe, superior care our patients and colleagues deserve. Each one of them is motivated by and dedicated to a “patient first” culture and I am proud to call them colleagues.
Stay tuned, too, for next month’s Patient Experience Week (April 27 through May 1). I look forward to applauding our patient and care experience practitioners at every step of the patient journey in celebration.
Thank you and Happy Patient Safety Awareness Week to you all!
Founded in 1968, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, comprising more than 2,000 sites of care, including 186 hospitals, surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers, and physician clinics, in 21 states and the United Kingdom.