Over the past decade, patient safety has risen to the forefront of health care in the United States. As health-care providers, we have seen an enhanced commitment to ensuring that we work every day to attain the highest quality and safety for our patients and their families.
This is a tremendously important calling for those of us who have dedicated our lives to caring for others. At Mercy, we have worked with passion to improve the safety of our patients. Although our initiatives benefit the quality of care for every patient, they are by their nature often invisible to the people we serve.
The single most important element of promoting patient safety is creating a culture of safety — weaving safety into every action and every moment, every day. You must respond to incidents and near-incidents, and you must learn from them, but you must go beyond that.
Our ultimate goal is prevention — to act before an incident happens. That requires attention at every level of the organization.
Developing a culture of safety must begin at the very top. Catholic Health Partners, our parent organization, and Mercy’s board of trustees are ultimately responsible for quality. They hold each of us accountable for real-time measurements and results.
These women and men are actively engaged in all of our patient care initiatives. Their direction filters through our senior leadership, to our physicians and clinical leaders, and ultimately to the patient’s bedside.
Our culture of safety includes a number of broad-based initiatives. Some examples:
●The employee-led “Journey to Zero” project, which has transformed the process of caring for patients, leading to significant reductions in hospital stays and enhanced quality results.
●Our participation in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “100,000 Lives” campaign, which shares and executes best practices in patient care and safety from across the nation.
●A separate partnership with the institute on “Safety Across the System,” a program that works to improve patient safety through staff procedures, decision making, and engaged leadership.
●A SafeCare system to encourage safety-related reporting and improvement.
●Daily quality and safety calls throughout our system, to anticipate and learn from potential problems.
●Our use of technology that promotes safety through redundancy and double-checks.
●CEO safety “walkarounds,” which put a face on safety and find and fix problems proactively.
●Monthly safety calls that feature representatives from across the Catholic Health Partners system, who discuss emerging issues and share best practices.
●Patient safety academies that develop lead practitioners in safety.
When we examine our patient safety practices, we are not interested in placing blame. Our only goal is to improve our processes continuously, to make our facilities higher-quality places for patients and their families to come for care.
Establishing our culture of safety required much hard work. We have received recognition that we are on the right track.
The Joint Commission, an independent, nonprofit organization that accredits hospitals nationally, named Mercy as a top performer, statewide and nationally. The commission cited our use of evidence-based care to improve the medical outcomes of our patients.
We are proud to receive such recognition. However, we also know that there always will be more work for us to do.
We are on a journey of continuous improvement. That is the right thing for the patients we serve, and for advancing our mission of improving the health of this community.
Dr. Imran Andrabi is senior vice president and chief physician executive officer of Mercy.