Archive September 2015 XVI, No. 9

ORX Award Winner: Patient Safety

Incredibly realistic drills and a staff of true believers protect patients at the Presidio Surgery Center in San Francisco.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Executive Editor


OR Excellence Awards
mimic actual emergencies DRILL TEAM Staff are put through the paces during in-services that mimic actual emergencies.

The staff and physicians at the Presidio Surgery Center in San Francisco take their safety drills seriously. Like watching a fire safety consultant burst into flames in the OR so they can practice extinguishing real flames. That's right. The consultant lays down on a gurney wearing an asbestos vest. He places a butane-soaked pad on his vest and — poof — touches a lighter to it. "It's quite dramatic and gets the point across. It adds to the realism of the drill," says Steven Vitcov, MD, the center's medical director. For stopping at nothing to protect their patients, Presidio Surgery Center's staff and physicians are this year's winner of the OR Excellence Award in Patient Safety.

Serious scenarios
Live fires aside, the center's safety drills are effective and educational because they're based on plausible scenarios that use the clinical data of patients they've cared for recently, like a patient who presented with coronary artery disease and stents and a history of myocardial infarction. They run through what they'd do if the patient ran into trouble in recovery.

During drills, the screening nurse serves as an impartial observer, monitoring the performance of the participants and offering critical feedback on how they performed. "She's an extra set of expert eyes," says Dr. Vitcov. "That's a big deal if you have enough staff to make it happen."

US WorldMeds

Staff gathers every other Friday for in-services or to run through the emergency drills. "We run every drill to near completion," says Dr. Vitcov. "The only thing we don't do is call EMS." After each drill is completed, they review what they did well and not so well, and include input from the screening nurse.

It's all hands on deck when patients are in jeopardy, says Dr. Vitcov. Every person in the facility, including members of the business office, has a role to play during each emergency response scenario and they act it out during each drill.

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