Craig Saylor

Patient safety was recognized by the World Health Organization on Tuesday as World Patient Safety Day.

Organizations such as the American College of Healthcare Executives partnered with WHO and released an alarming statistic: four in 10 primary and outpatient care patients are harmed.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, an organization I partnered with in my previous professional life, helped us achieve top decile results in numerous safety measures. This organization focuses on delivering zero harm to patients, family and the workforce.

This is accomplished through the establishment of:

• Organizational vision for safety.

• Behavior expectations.

• Trust, respect and inclusion.

• A just culture.

• Leadership development.

• Board engagement.

The Joint Commission

– which accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health organizations and programs across the country – has established robust safety initiatives including its “Speak Up” campaign, which is designed to encourage patients, their families and staff to become part of the safety dialogue.

The Joint Commission has this mission statement: “All people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings.

Using the six core elements of the IHI’s Leading Culture of Safety, we can clearly understand the connectivity of each element.

Federal and private agencies have identified governance as having the chief responsibility of quality and safety oversight.

A 2018 survey conducted by the ACHE of hospital leaders was designed to provide statistics on hospital board engagement. Just over 2,000 surveys were sent to hospital CEOs and 720 were returned.

The surveys indicated 92% agreed their board was provided patient safety education, 55% conduct self-assessments related to their functional knowledge of patient safety, and 68% reported that patient safety stories, good and bad, are shared with the board.

This survey indicates positive movement from previous decades, but raises the question: Is this acceptable?

This should trigger self-reflection. All too often, statistics are shared and if an organization meets averages or selected benchmarks, the topic moves to the next agenda item on the template.

A culture of safety doesn’t dismiss patient safety benchmarks being met for medication errors, falls, missed diagnosis, infections and delays in reporting diagnostic tests – but rather insists on zero defects. It supports employee satisfaction with the workplace by encouraging employees to freely report safety concerns, cultural issues, such as bullying and policy violations without a fear of retaliation.

Health-care organizations are governed by our communities and we should require those representing us to place quality and safety at the top of the agenda.

Zero defects is within our reach.

Craig Saylor retired from Somerset Hospital as CEO after serving the organization for 35 years in various roles. He holds a fellowship with the American College for Healthcare Executives and is credentialed in Healthcare Quality.

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