Healthcare Workers Recognized by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority

Eighteen Pennsylvania healthcare workers are being recognized by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority for their efforts to improve patient safety within their healthcare facilities. The healthcare workers had their photos and descriptions of their efforts highlighted on a poster for display during National Patient Safety Awareness Week March 8-14.

The recognized healthcare workers have also been invited to the Authority’s March 10, 2015 public board meeting at the Central Penn Conference Center in Summerdale, Pa. They will meet with Authority board members and receive “I Am Patient Safety” pins and certificates for their achievement. Lunch will be served afterward.

“This is the second year for the “I am Patient Safety” poster contest to highlight individuals and groups who have made a personal commitment to patient safety,” says Mike Doering, executive director of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. “As one of the judges for the panel, I’m impressed with the nominations.

“Judging was harder this year than last, and I expect next year to be even harder because of the number of dedicated individuals and groups working to improve patient safety within Pennsylvania’s healthcare facilities,” Doering adds.

The judging panel for the poster contest was comprised of Patient Safety Authority board members and management staff. The submissions were de-identified for the panel and judged according to the following criteria: had a discernable impact on patient safety to one or many patients, demonstrated a personal commitment to patient safety, and demonstrated that a strong patient safety culture is present in the facility. Bonus points were awarded for those who demonstrated initiative taken by an individual.

“We know this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Pennsylvania healthcare facilities are doing to improve patient safety,” Doering says. “This is our way of congratulating them on a personal level for the good work that they do.”

The individuals and groups recognized for the “I Am Patient Safety” poster contest and their achievements are as follows (facilities in alphabetical order):

Lorena Romero-Prato, Admissions Office Secretary
Lisa Sarnowski, RN, CEN
Jodi Celender, Monitor Tech, Nursing Assistant II
Allegheny Health Network, West Penn Hospital

A patient was trying to call her doctor but accidentally reached a West Penn Hospital voice mailbox. She left her phone number but not her name or address, stating she was in pain and thought she was having a heart attack. Lorena Romero-Prato heard the distress in the patient’s voice and tried to call her back, but there was no answer. Lorena dialed 911 to get emergency medical services to respond. The call center, however, was unable to help without a name or address. Lorena then called West Penn Hospital Emergency Department (ED) to ask for help. She reached Lisa Sarnowski, RN, who knew there was a way to look up the phone number of a person without the name, but wasn’t sure how. Lisa called Jodi Celender, a nursing assistant and monitoring technician in the ED. Lisa and Jodi were able to find the caller through a reverse phone number search. Once they identified her, they contacted 911 and emergency medical services were dispatched. The ambulance reached the patient and brought her to the ED for further evaluation.

David Ezdon, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacist
Einstein Medical Center Montgomery

As a clinical pharmacist, David has focused on improving patient care by building a culture of safety. He has worked with the hospital’s falls committee and natural sleep initiative team to reduce patient falls due to medications. He was also instrumental in improving patient safety in the neonatal intensive care unit by demonstrating how staff can use electronic ordering plans efficiently, rebuilding the unit’s pump libraries to maximize safety software, and educating staff pharmacists on properly compounding medications. David has also led the effort to establish an antibiotic stewardship program to minimize the use of antibiotics and reduce Clostridium difficile (C. diff) rates. He also developed electronic order pathways to help prescribers avoid harmful drug interactions when ordering new oral anticoagulants. David’s efforts to improve gaps in Einstein’s communication systems have encouraged all who work with him to seek his expertise and recommendations.

Tom Miller, MLT, ASCP, Medical Laboratory Technician
Einstein Medical Center Montgomery

As a medical laboratory technician at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, Tom discovered why blood draws resulted at the bedside of premature infants often show different results for glucose levels than specimens that were resulted in the lab. He spent many hours investigating the issue when neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) staff noticed that the blood results for infants were markedly different for glucose when resulted at the bedside, than when resulted in the laboratory. Tom found that since an infant’s red blood cells are more active metabolically, they consume more glucose compared to the same red blood cells in adults. This difference means that an infant’s glucose level will be higher when resulted at the bedside as compared to when resulted in a laboratory. Because of Tom’s persistence, infants in the NICU are safer and are spared from unnecessary blood draws.

Nora Ramirez, Environmental Services Worker
Einstein Medical Center Montgomery

As a member of the environmental services team, Nora shows her dedication to patient safety over and over again in the way she cleans each patient’s room. Always compliant with isolation precaution requirements, her cleaning process is so thorough that every surface in the patient’s room is wiped and disinfected every time. Nora understands the importance of her role in killing multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery. Her surfaces pass Einstein Medical Center’s prevention monitoring program 100 percent of the time. Nora’s cleaning methods are a model for our infection prevention control team.

Emily Coon, RN, BSN, Emergency Department
Fulton County Medical Center

As a nurse in the emergency department (ED), Emily works to improve the delivery of care to her patients. Part of this effort includes using the electronic medical record system to ensure her patient’s medications are updated regularly with outside pharmacy information. The medication reconciliation process can be time consuming, but Emily recognized the value in obtaining a patient’s medication list and comparing it to external pharmacy records. She recently cared for a patient in the ED who had a strange set of symptoms, given the patient’s age and medical history. While performing medication reconciliation, Emily noticed the patient recently had a prescription filled for a class of drug which was not consistent with her medical history. She questioned the patient thoroughly, which took a significant amount of time. After reviewing the medications over the phone with the patient’s family, it was found that the patient received a prescription that was not intended for her. Emily’s persistence in this matter, helped identify the cause and subsequent treatment of this patient’s symptoms.

Elizabeth Martin, RT(R)(VI),RCES
Lancaster General Health

As a radiologic technologist, Beth volunteered to serve as the electrophysiology and pacing department’s radiation safety officer. Her goals were to reduce patient radiation exposure and increase the safety of fellow staff members and physicians. Beth worked closely with the x-ray equipment vendor, staff and physicians to identify action steps to reduce radiation exposure for all. The team identified several key strategies, including, but not limited to: partnering with the x-ray equipment vendor to establish the lowest standard equipment settings that still provided accurate images; providing education and training opportunities for staff; developing a radiation time-out to alert the physician when 30 minutes of fluoroscopy time was reached; using Gafchromic film to measure radiation exposure; and developing a database to track patients’ exposure information. A post-implementation study shows a 44 percent decrease in radiation exposure to patients from calendar year 2011 to 2012. Beth continues to educate physicians and staff about the dangers of radiation exposure and the importance of compliance with the guidelines established through this project.

Kathleen Cochrane, RN, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Lehigh Valley Hospital

While checking medication stock in Lehigh Valley Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Kathleen Cochrane noticed a difference. The vaccine was not the usual type of hepatitis B vaccine that was normally stocked. Kathleen called the pharmacist to question it. The pharmacist came to the NICU to check the vaccine and determined that it was not the correct medication to be administered to babies. Kathleen’s attention to detail may have prevented a serious patient safety event.

Gloria Mazzie, RN, Behavioral Health Unit
Lehigh Valley Hospital

After the hospital purchased paper bags with handles to store patient clothing, Gloria discovered that a patient in the hospital’s behavioral health unit had tied together the bag handles to use as a belt. It was determined that this belt was strong enough for a patient to cause harm to himself and another patient. Gloria’s quick response to this concern initiated a search to find a bag that would be safer for patients to use in the behavioral health unit. Her dedication to patient safety may have prevented a serious patient safety event.

Christine Reesey, RN, Float Pool Center for Critical Care
Lehigh Valley Hospital

While reviewing a chest x-ray, Christine noticed that the patient’s partial denture plate had slipped out of place and was lodged in his throat. She noted this before it was seen by the radiologist. Christine notified the medical team and the plate was removed. Ten days later, while caring for another patient, she noticed the physician had placed an order for insulin that was much higher than what the patient had been receiving. Christine contacted the physician to question the order and obtained an order for a decreased dose. Her continual attention to detail may have prevented two potentially serious patient safety events.

Jolene Barbazzeni, RN, Stroke Coordinator
Penn Highlands Healthcare (DuBois)

Jolene leads the “Good Catch” committee, which recognizes Incidents or near-miss events that could have caused harm to patients but did not actually occur. She has also personally had many “good catches” that prevented patient harm. Most recently, Jolene’s effort was chosen as the “Good Catch of the Month” when she prevented a potential wrong-site surgery. A patient needed surgery on the right side of his neck to prevent a stroke. Jolene noticed the wrong side was documented in his record. She immediately notified the patient’s caregivers, and the patient received the proper surgery.

Tammy Angeletti, MS, RRT-NPS, RN, CPFT, AE-C
Clinical and ECMO Specialist, Department of Respiratory Care
Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital

While providing care for a child with a tracheostomy tube, Tammy recognized a variable connection issue between the oxygen delivery device and the tracheostomy tube. She worked with a manufacturer to develop a device that would provide a standard connection, eliminating any variation to the oxygen set-up.

Marybeth Lahey, RN, BSN, Nurse Manager of the Well Mother and Baby Unit
Susan Meyers, MSN, RNC, CPNP-PC
Pennsylvania Hospital

In early 2012, Marybeth and Susan were made aware of significant safety concerns related to infant falls at the Pennsylvania Hospital. Infant falls were reviewed from March 2012 to March 2013. During this time, 10 infant falls occurred, translating to a rate of 21.5 infant falls per 10,000 births. Marybeth and Susan did an exhaustive literature search on infant falls prevention and how to intervene when moms are noticed in a sleepy state; educating all nurses and physicians about the need for increased vigilance; recruiting physicians as champions to prevent infant falls; giving moms two hours of quiet time in the afternoon so they could sleep; revising a safety contract to inform patients about the risks involved in caring for an infant while fatigued; developing a Good Catch log to capture opportunities for further education; and developing a falls debriefing process. As a result of these implemented interventions, Pennsylvania Hospital experienced an 88 percent reduction in infant falls.

Karen Barbieri, RN, Progressive Care Unit/Telemetry
Cindy Valerio, RN, Progressive Care Unit/Telemetry
Phoenixville Hospital

Cindy noticed that a patient with heart failure had been discharged without his prescriptions after finding them on the discharge desk. Cindy voiced her concerns to her unit coordinator, Karen Barbieri, who agreed the patient was at risk for heart failure complications if he didn’t have his prescriptions. Karen called the patient and found he was not able to determine what medications he had at home. The patient had gained two pounds in a short period of time, which is a complication of heart failure. Karen recognized this patient was in danger at home and called medical home care services to help the patient. She also called the primary care physician to get the patient his needed prescriptions. During a daily safety call, this event was discussed and all staff used it as a learning opportunity.

Lisa Connolly, RN, Medical Surgical Unit
Phoenixville Hospital

As a medical-surgical nurse, Lisa was caring for a patient following joint replacement surgery. Upon reviewing her patient’s electronic medical record, she noticed the surgeon had ordered two specific blood thinner medications for him to take after surgery-one was the blood thinner he had taken at home before surgery and the second was another medication. Lisa immediately questioned why two of the same medications were ordered for her patient and held both doses until further review. The attending physician was notified, and new medication orders were obtained. It was discovered that both the surgeon and pharmacist received a clinical alert within the electronic medical record, but both ignored the alert. As a result of Lisa’s questioning and subsequent follow-up to verify and validate the medications, the patient did not receive duplicate medications. The lessons learned from this near-miss event were shared at unit-based and leadership safety huddles.

The Authority holds the “I Am Patient Safety” poster contest each year from May to October. Winners are announced during Patient Safety Awareness Week. To view the posters from this year’s “I am Patient Safety” contest, go to

Patient Safety Awareness Week is a national observance sponsored by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) as an education and awareness-building campaign for improving patient safety at the local level. This year’s theme is “United in Safety.” Everyone in the healthcare process plays a role in delivering safe care and by uniting together and sharing that common goal; we can make a difference in patient safety. From patients to care providers, from the front lines to the executive suite, from the patient and family advocate to the corporate solutions provider-we are all united in the goal of keeping patients and those who care for them free from harm. The underlying focus of this campaign is patient engagement and emphasizes the importance of the relationship between providers and patients and their families.

For more information on Patient Safety Awareness Week go to

Source:  Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority