Counting our patient safety blessings
My daughter just asked me what I was thankful for this Thanksgiving. As I reflected on the blessings in my family and personal life, I also thought about what I was grateful for in patient safety. While progress has been slower than any of us would want, we certainly have many things to count:
Patient- and family-centered care is getting long-overdue attention. About two years ago, nurses on one unit at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center began conducting shift-change reports in patients’ rooms, rather than in the hallway, so that patients and family members have the chance to ask questions and get the most up-to-date information. More hospitals are including patients on committees. These are small changes, but they represent a larger acknowledgement of the importance of building care around patients’ needs and to seek their wisdom.
Clinicians are increasingly engaged in the work of patient safety. In the past they have largely stayed on the sidelines or have pushed back—often appropriately—against regulatory mandates, interventions or measures that are not informed by science. Yet clinicians did not step forward to take the lead. Now they are. Professional societies, physicians, researchers, nurses, want the science to be good, the measures to be wise, and the interventions flexible enough to fit into their local context. Over the last two weeks, I had calls with several professional societies planning safety programs. At Hopkins, more than 100 faculty members recently showed up at a meeting for those interested in conducting patient safety research.