Archive February 2019 XX, No. 2

Safety: Make Today a Safe Day

Protecting patients from harm really is as simple as changing the culture.

Kathy Fisher

Kathy Fisher


Kathy Fisher, MSEd, BSN, RN, CNOR
TEAM EFFORT At Houston's Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, all staff members have a say in planning and implementing improved safety protocols.

Let's make it a safe day, LBJ! That's what the charge nurse here at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston announces to the entire perioperative team at the end of every morning huddle. I can't help but smile each time I hear it, because those 7 words are more than just a catchy phrase. They represent a hospital-wide culture change and serve as a daily reminder to focus on safety protocols that improve staff collaboration and eliminate preventable errors. Nowadays, our team is on the same page when the huddle breaks, but we didn't always see eye to eye.

Nurses and techs used to believe surgeons acted like know-it-all dictators. Surgeons, meanwhile, thought nurses were bossy and the surgical team as a whole needed to listen more intently during procedures. Maybe both groups had a point.

Efforts to change our safety culture began by bridging the communication gap between surgeons and other staff members. Leadership from all levels — nursing, physicians and administration — was committed to the initiative. We divided surgeons and surgical team members into several small groups, being mindful to have someone from each discipline in every group. They sat and shared their perspectives on patient care, voiced complaints about how things were currently working and shared solutions for improving surgical safety. The face-to-face discussions broke down barriers by giving everyone the opportunity to clear the air and get on the same page for safer patient care. Surgeons now receive more input from staff in a more productive and collaborative OR environment.

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