Valuing patient safety: How two units have found the keys to success

March 10, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,
Top: 7D, bottom: 11W

Teamwork. Communication. Caring.

These three things are important ingredients to creating a positive culture. But they have tangible effects too — as they serve as key components in keeping patients safe.

In honor of National Patient Safety Awareness Week, Michigan Medicine is celebrating the faculty and staff who work tirelessly to provide world-class care to patients and keep them safe from harm. So, too, is Headlines, by recognizing two of the highest-performing units at the academic medical center.

Adopting key values

Many units across the health system have celebrated 365 Days of Safety awards recently for going a full year without patients experiencing a health care-acquired condition (HACs), such as a fall, catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) or pressure ulcer.

But on two units, their impressive work has spanned far more than a year.

For instance, 11W at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has gone three years without a CAUTI or a CLABSI. 7D at University Hospital, meanwhile, has gone more than two years without a CAUTI.

“Keeping our patients safe is truly a team effort,” said Diane Lopez, R.N., clinical nursing director for 7D. “Our unit focuses on a multidisciplinary team effort, ensuring patients have access to someone from any specialty area that will benefit their care. This can include nurses, physicians, dietitians, respiratory therapists or physical therapists, just to name a few.”

The team on 11W agreed.

“Our team really came together to improve communication on our unit and support one another,” said Dru MacPherson, R.N., clinical nursing director for 11W. “By constantly involving everyone in a patient’s care plan, it ensures things don’t fall through the cracks that can lead to patient harm.”

Tying values to high reliability

In addition to adopting key values, both units also credit the high reliability principles they implemented to improving patient care.

“When we first rolled out a daily management system in our unit, we were experiencing high rates of CLABSI, so we chose to focus our problem-solving efforts in that area,” said MacPherson. “Our team really worked together on solutions, including making improvements to procedures and checklists. After making these changes, we have continued seeing tremendous success.”  

Making such checklists easier to use added to the success.

“We put our CLABSI survey on an iPad so it was easy for our staff members to use,” said MacPherson. “Once we did that, we focused on doing the survey every day for every patient that had a central line. Doing it every day helped make it more routine, so it became part of the way we do our work.”

Dedicating time for multidisciplinary teams to get together and talk about problems also improved communication and problem-solving among team members.

“We have a multi-disciplinary Clinical Quality Initiative (CQI) meeting with very engaged members that reviews safety measures and other unit-specific items,” said Lopez. “But in addition to quality and safety information from our CQI meetings, we also have strong physician support from our medical director, Michael Thomas, M.D. We also have additional gatherings and rotate topics like finding joy in work, improving communication or how to handle difficult situations. These meetings are a chance for staff to get together and discuss important topics but also to learn from one another and strengthen our teamwork.”  

Overall, however, both units credit their success to the hard work and dedication of their team members.

“We could not do this work without our amazing staff,” said Lopez. “All of our teams are compassionate about taking care of our patients and making sure that we do everything possible to help them heal and keep them safe.”