Written by Verge CEO, Dr. Mark Crockett

When was the last time you found something that was twice as good? How about 3 times as good? 10 times? You’d probably consider that to be a pretty significant improvement. Consider you purchased a car that got 300 miles to the gallon, you’d jump at the chance to bring that vehicle home, right?

For those of us in healthcare, we celebrate small wins in patient safety. As we all know, even a small win means improving the quality of care for even one patient, let alone implementing a patient safety initiative that improves the experience for thousands of patients, ultimately saving lives in the process.

When we consider that lives and positive outcomes are at stake, a process that improves 3 times better than the current one, would be considered highly successful. How about an approach that is 33 times better when it comes to patient safety? I think we can all agree that’s substantial when we’re talking about something as important as the safety and quality of care we provide to our communities, those who count on us to keep them safe from harm.

The professionals at Cook Children’s Hospital published an article about using a technique found in high-reliability industries, like the airline and nuclear power industries, called random safety audits. Random safety audits (RSA) are a safety tool enabling prevention of adverse events, but they have not been widely used in hospitals, prior to a few years ago [1].

Cook Children’s Hospital used these audits to uncover safety problems and have had amazing success. Instead of finding the average 7-8 number of safety-related problems in their NICU, they found more than 330. More than 33 times the expected catch rate!

Forward-thinking organizations are focused on driving towards high reliability and patient-centered care. In addition to meeting regulatory requirements, organizations have a responsibility to create a culture of safety, providing centralized patient and employee safety oversight, establishing end-to-end event workflow, while maintaining profitability.

One Verge Health client, known nationally for their admirable quality, leveraged the Verge rounding tool to capture areas of risk in medication delivery. During the first quarter, they collected 4,000 data points, 6,000 the second quarter and 8,000 the third. Data from their safety audit shows them moving from 93 percent compliant to 98 percent.

While 98 percent is impressive, that 2 percent represents a failure rate with real issues that still need resolution. Now, they can track every issue and assign responsibility for fixing it at the time of discovery in real-time. They are able to confidently say that all the issues are fixed or actively being addressed. They also have better systems in place to ensure they will not have the same problems in the future.

Organizations focused on getting to zero know a robust safety culture is necessary to create a cycle of continuous improvement. Focusing on transparency, communication, and a desire to improve, safety issues are detected early, resolved quickly and decrease in frequency.

We’re witnessing the best in healthcare getting even better.

 

Resources:

[1]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4676130/

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