Patient Safety Awareness Week March 8-14 Highlights CMHS’s Expansive Efforts

Patients fall. Nurses suffer from stress and burnout from the rigors of their jobs. People in the hospital pick up secondary infections.

Full transparency here: these things happen from time to time in the healthcare world, and Community Memorial Health System takes them very seriously. To highlight Patient Safety Awareness Week March 8-14, Community Memorial Health System would like to share some of the many things we do to protect our patients and staff at Community Memorial and Ojai Valley Community hospitals.

“It all starts with a culture of safety,” said Maureen Archambault, director of Risk Management and Patient Safety for CMHS. “This is when our staff is comfortable to raise questions and concerns. We listen and we act.”

The CMHS Patient Safety Superheroes serve as the health system’s team of patient safety mascots, calling upon physicians and staff to be “Patient Safety Heroes” by participating in and implementing patient safety initiatives, identifying and reporting potential issues, and communicating effectively.

Community Memorial Hospital and Ojai Valley Community Hospital are constantly seeking to better identify errors, support patients and employees, and encourage teamwork and communication. We do this by being sensitive to operations, staffing and patient needs. We never accept simple explanations and always ask, “How can we be better?” We try to anticipate where a patient mistake could be made and defer to experts (often the nurse at the bedside). And, when we identify a problem, we act swiftly to make improvements.

Here’s how we do it:

Team STEPPS – Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety: We use tools and techniques that focus on teamwork and communication because communication failures have found to be a significant cause of errors in healthcare. For example, if a nurse needs attention from a physician, all the nurse has to do is voice a concern or flag a possible safety issue, and the provider will respond immediately. Another tool is our daily “safety huddles” which are held throughout the day in every department so the staff can discuss especially needy patients on the floor, for instance. Our directors have “operation huddles” every day too, to talk about patients, employee safety issues or security issues. These huddles help us identify areas where someone may need extra help that day.

Infection Prevention: CMHS addresses Infection Prevention on many fronts through a physician-led Infection Control Committee, a stellar Infection Control Liaison team with nursing representation throughout the health system, dedicated and skilled department staff, and partnerships both within the system and throughout the nation.  In addition to ongoing education, audits, and hospital acquired infection surveillance, Infection Prevention is dedicated to performance improvement and staying at the forefront of innovation.

Fall Prevention: Our Falls Prevention Team meets monthly. Every patient fall is investigated to determine what happened and how the fall could have been prevented. We also have a “No Pass Zone” policy, which means that any time a patient has their “help” light on, anyone in that area or who walks by can go ask the patient what they need; someone will respond. We also ask every patient to watch a short video about patient safety on the TV in their room when they are admitted. Patients are instructed to always ask for help getting out of bed.

Patient Involvement: We encourage our patients to have a relative, friend or patient advocate while they are in the hospital. We are happy for that advocate to offer another set of eyes and ears!

Executive Walk-Arounds: All our executives are assigned to departments and every month they have time scheduled to observe the department and talk to the staff about what the executives observe. They can make suggestions and support our staff.

CANDOR – Communication and Optimal Resolution Program: This program has many parts. First, following an event where a patient was harmed or there was an error, we communicate with the patient and family early and with full transparency. We may call in our trained team to support the staff too. “There is huge burnout in healthcare. We need to address the stress factors,” Archambault said. Another big part of patient safety is the patients’ participation in their care. We constantly ask patients for their identification and about allergies and medications. We want our patients to team up with our staff for everyone’s safety!