By Martie Moore
Twenty years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) identified major inconsistencies in the way high quality medical care is delivered to the masses. They called for sweeping action and talked about its vision for the future in a report titled “Crossing the Quality Chasm.” Many of us were young ourselves in our understanding of quality improvement. Two leading approaches – W. Edwards Deming’s model of Total Quality Management and Joseph Juran’s work for continuous quality improvement – were being studied with attempts to adapt them into the healthcare setting.
Fast forward to 2016 and type “patient safety” into your favorite search engine. A plethora of definitions will pop up. Word art begins to swirl in your mind as you read the definitions on patient safety. Words like complexity, human error factor, adverse effects, technology, communication, prevention, reduction and lastly patients populate the search. As we have worked hard to reduce error and improve quality, we’re now confronted with more complexity, less resources and higher stakes. Has the quality chasm been crossed? Did it widen? Or, like the Choluteca Bridge, did it move on the health industry?
Designed to withstand even the strongest of storms, the Choluteca Bridge in Honduras was an engineering masterpiece made with the highest grade of steel and concrete. But a bridge is only as good as the river or chasm that it spans. Constant beating changed the landscape completely to the point where water no longer flows beneath it. That is where patient safety is today. The river has moved.
So what can organizational leadership and clinicians do today to improve patient safety? It comes down to better listening, simplifying systems and minimizing human error. Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 13-19, 2016) gives healthcare facilities great opportunity to renew focus on their patient safety efforts and further improve practice through a variety of resources.
I recently met with an IV therapy team at a large hospital to discuss maintenance dressing changes for central lines. When I asked the group of 26 to describe the process, there was significant variation on the first four steps, one being hand hygiene. Patient safety actions must be simple and clearly defined so all care providers can utilize and follow. By coupling that with intuitive products and greater education, these best practices can help guide our new river flow toward a high standard of patient safety.
Medline is committed to helping healthcare providers perform at their very best through a range of innovative infection prevention solutions, intuitive products and more than 250 free courses on Medline University that cover topics like safe patient handling, effective communication strategies and infection prevention. And every day, it’s our goal to provide these important tools and education to improve patient safety across the continuum of care.
We all play a vital role in positively changing the course of care – let’s work together to adapt and evolve in the right direction.
Martie Moore is chief nursing officer for Medline Industries, Inc.