Q&A: Getting to Know Mission Health’s Patient Safety Institute

Mission Health’s Patient Safety Institute launched last fall and was created to bring healthcare professionals together to cultivate a culture of safety. The goal is to provide tangible training and support for caregivers of all functions to implement best practices within the culture of their unit.

With the Institute’s next conference fast approaching, Melanie Norman, Director of Quality and Safety for Mission Health, joins us for a Q&A to discuss the innovative patient safety programs and inspiring keynote speakers planned for the event.

Q: In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up and just go through the motions, forgetting the joy once experienced. What is this idea of joy in the workplace that Mission Health’s Patient Safety Institute focuses on?

Norman: The topics were thoughtfully chosen to engage and empower frontline staff — the people at the bedside. It was also very important that the topics help healthcare professionals develop the skills and natural instinct to drive innovative visioning in their work.

Q: What was the thought process behind Mission Health’s motto for patient safety and quality practices?

Norman: As we were thinking about what to offer in the Patient Safety Institute, the concept of “taking care of our people so we can take care of yours” came up. It is the “wholeness” of our program that reflects the cycle of care from start to finish. When an event happens, we strive to cover all components of the safety cycle: First, provide peer support to our caregivers if needed; second, disclose the event to the patient/family; third, perform a root cause analysis to determine root causes and create a solid action plan to prevent it from happening in another patient care interaction.

Q: What are you most excited about for the upcoming conference?

Norman: The speakers! We are very excited and fortunate to be able to host such extraordinary speakers, who are passionate and have become great experts in their topics. Dr. Wu’s “Second Victim Phenomenon” is very real and often not addressed. Caregivers are susceptible to errors and have less opportunity to deal with the emotional aspect when an event occurs. We care about our staff and want to provide knowledge and a resource to support them. Tiffany’s presentation puts the patient in the center of what we do — a great reminder of why we do what we do. She is dynamic! I am also really excited about the synergy that organically develops from the sharing of information and the focus on patient safety.

Q: What makes Mission Health’s Patient Safety Institute unique?

Norman: It offers the completeness to safety — taking care of the patient and family, the employee and the process failures. We are unique in how we engage and partner with our caregivers in safety work, event investigation and process improvement. Engaging the clinician or care provider in the process not only provides the most meaningful information, but provides the caregiver a healing environment when an event has occurred — healing often occurs because of the process-focused environment. We support the caregiver by showing them anyone could have made the same error. Walking through this process fosters healing of the caregiver — the second victim of an event.

Q: What can attendees expect to take away, both in thought/philosophy and resources?

Norman: Safety is more than about errors that reach the patient. There are stages of grief that caregivers go through when they make a mistake. We are human and we do make mistakes — we say we know this, but I am not sure we allow it for ourselves. This conference provides a venue, rich in sharing and relaying actual patient safety stories, allowing for a more enhanced learning experience. Our national Patient Safety Conference addresses a wide variety of safety healthcare topics not only from the clinician perspective but from the patient experience as well. This allows attendees to benefit from a well-rounded patient safety experience. Foundational patient safety concepts around just culture and root cause analyses trainings are included but also more timely topics such as:

  • Caring for the Caregiver:  A program in which clinicians who are involved in unanticipated adverse patient events, medical error or a patient-related injury can become the “second victim” causing short- or long-term stress reactions, which many times could benefit from peer outreach and support.
  • Patient Disclosure: A transparency and disclosure program providing conversation tools for providing information, acknowledgement, apology as well as greater understanding of legal implications as a way to handle unexpected medical outcomes.
  • Human Factors Principles: A discipline that takes into account human strengths and limitations in the design of interactive systems that involve people, tools and technology in work environments to ensure safety.

Q: What’s one “Aha!” moment someone might have at the conference?

Norman: I think we as caregivers get so caught up in the day-to-day activities that we forget (or have never experienced) what it is like to be a patient. Tiffany’s presentation will quickly remind us! I just love the title of her talk, “From a Bed’s Eye View.” Also, this is a very difficult concept to wrap our heads around — to admit that we “goofed” and we are very sorry for it; especially if it didn’t cause harm to the patient. Finally, I’ll share this response from one of my team members: “I am not alone in my need to share and outreach to other clinicians that have been involved in an adverse patient event, which has caused significant emotional trauma causing me to question my career choice and competency. There actually is a program that I want to be involved in so that I can help others that have been in my shoes — Caring for the Caregiver.”

Q: How can people register for a conference and learn more about patient safety at Mission Health?

Norman: You can go here for information about the Patient Safety Institute.
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