Hospitals and Health System Honored for Promoting a Culture of Safety

ABINGTON, Pa. -- Three hospitals and a healthcare system have been recognized for their leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care. The American Hospital Quest for Quality Prize was awarded to Abington Memorial Hospital, Abington, Pa. The hospital will receive $75,000.

Finalists were Beaumont Hospitals, Royal Oak, Mich, and the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (UWHC), Madison, Wis. Each finalist will receive a $12,500 award. Olympic Medical Center (OMC), Port Angeles, Wash, received a Citation of Merit.

A common focus of the 2003 honorees was on the creation of a culture of safety. These hospitals and health systems have worked to create a blame-free environment in which reporting of errors is encouraged and even facilitated among staff members, patients, and families, as well as with the community. The involvement and commitment from the entire hospital family, from top management down, was critical in instilling this culture of safety. This year's honorees provide examples of innovative and successful patient safety approaches and initiatives that other hospitals can emulate.

Award criteria included organizational patient safety efforts related to patient and family member involvement, patient and family member communication, leadership, strategic planning, information and analysis, human resources, and process management.

Prize Winner-Abington Memorial Hospital

Abington Memorial has instilled a value of quality throughout its hospital family through both policy and action. A clear signal from hospital leaders has demonstrated that the promotion of safety and prevention of injury must be the primary considerations of every member of the hospital team in all actions.

Abington developed a system-based hospital patient safety plan. The approach does not absolve individuals of accountability but rather encourages staff members in a productive vein to work to eliminate the next error.

The adoption of such practices as computerized physician order entry and web-based patient monitoring, focus on evidence-based medicine, outreach on patient safety to the community, new patient safety newsletters, and patient safety suggestion boxes around the hospital have helped to integrate safety into the everyday workings of the hospital. Additionally, Abington works to ensure that the philosophy of patient safety is instilled in both medical and nursing trainees, stressing safety constructs as a foundation piece in their careers and providing ready access to medical reference and Internet resources.

Finalist-University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics

The UWHC governing board and executive leaders have made a strong strategic commitment to patient safety, investing in both personnel and technology to create a culture of patient safety. The patient safety committee works to monitor, evaluate, and continually improve the care and safety of UWHC patients. The culture of safety is closely linked to staff member accountabilities and job responsibilities through the organization and is evident in staff member training and evaluation. Positive and strong disclosure policies based on open communication about errors and near misses are strongly supported at all levels of the organization. Root cause analyses are performed after all occurrences, helping to promote an open and supportive culture of trust in which participating employees openly exchange ideas about improving the system.

An annual quality week is hosted to focus attention on patient safety and to educate staff members. Invitations are extended to the public, area hospitals, health care professionals, media professionals, and community leaders to participate in these events. Presentations and poster sessions are shared on many of the concrete steps taken to maximize patient safety.

Finalist-Beaumont Hospitals

Beaumont Hospitals are firmly committed to integrating the culture of safety through leadership, education and training programs, and sufficient allocation of resources and personnel to ensure a state-of-the-art process of improvement capability. The two-hospital system is dedicated to continuous improvement as a tenet of success and to making safety an integral part of all work at the hospitals.

Beaumont Hospitals are actively involved in shaping local, regional, and national policy regarding patient safety. A "Patient Safety Overview" course is offered to leaders in other health care facilities. Strong support from the board of trustees is evident, and the board has a subcommittee on safety. There is extraordinarily open and candid discussion about safety concerns and areas that could be improved. Use of patient safety story telling has been effective in promoting candid discussion. When staff members see genuine process change as a result of their reports and discussion, they are more likely to continue to report.

Patient safety education tool kits with sample agendas, videotape vignettes, and case studies have been made available to all managers. A patient safety "Qualipalooza" is held so staff members can showcase story boards regarding patient safety. Awards are given during nurses' week to nursing staff members that showcase patient safety efforts. In an effort to involve patients, a Partners in Safety brochure was created.

Citation of Merit-Olympic Medical Center

A small, rural hospital, OMC is recognized for its strong leadership and resource commitment to patient safety and open communication on patient safety with its community. By way of openness, OMC involves all stakeholders, from patients and providers to employees and the community. Its unique openness lies in the transparency and flow of information on critical safety issues as a means to support the prevention of adverse outcomes. Its leadership and resource commitment is obvious in its investment in use of intensivists and educational opportunities.

A multidisciplinary committee of healthcare and patient safety experts evaluated and awarded the American Hospital Quest for Quality Prize to its recipients and honorees.

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