Many people assume safe care in hospitals is a given. But the truth is it requires diligent effort from every member of the care team to ensure successful patient outcomes.
There are many ways to measure safe care. You can look at length of hospital stay, readmissions, infections that develop while in the hospital, number of falls in the hospital setting, medication errors, and even things such as how often people wash their hands and use hand sanitizer. At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we’re focused on improving all of these measures.
One way we do this is by taking a different approach to providing care. We believe everyone comes to work wanting to do the right thing, but medical errors can still occur because healthcare is super complex. So one thing we’re doing is taking a look at how other high reliability industries, such as aviation and nuclear power, reduce error and risk in an effort to reach zero errors.
For example, when you get on an airplane, you might see the pilot and copilot going through a lengthy checklist even though they’ve flown the same plane numerous times. We take the same approach in the operating room to ensure the patient receives consistent and reliable care.
We want patients and their families to be active members of the care team. If something doesn’t seem right or they don’t understand something, we want to know. We encourage them to bring a current medications list as well as provide any other vital health information at every appointment. And throughout the process, we listen to our patients and families to understand how they feel about their care – was it safe, seamless and personal? Their voices are important to us and help us shape the care we provide.
Our staff also gives input along the way. We want to know how they feel about safety in our facilities. After all, providing safe care isn’t something that’s provided by one person or department – it’s part of our culture. Everyone in the hospital has to have the same state of mind to make it happen.
The benefits make it worthwhile. Providing safe care means our patients experience significantly fewer infections during their stay, fewer complications and they can go home sooner. We have fewer readmissions and our patients are happier because they feel safe while they’re here.
Providing safe care is an essential part of our mission so we train every person in our organization toward this goal. At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we’re all safety leaders and patient advocates.