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Archive Staff & Patient Safety 2020

On Point: Safe Spaces

Prioritizing the well-being of staff and patients is an evolving process.

Jared Bilski


VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System
EVERY VOICE COUNTS To embody a true culture of safety, you must encourage everyone to speak up if they have a safety concern.

For surgical facility leaders, safety is everything. You meet rigorous quality and care standards, practice evidence-based medicine, use cutting-edge technology and adhere to meticulous, comprehensive checklists to ensure patients who walk through your doors leave without incident, injury or complication. Of course, protecting patients is only one part of the equation. You must also take care of your staff so they're available to care for patients. Otherwise, you're ultimately compromising the safety of both staff and their patients. "Workload intensity, working conditions, disruptive behavior and increased stress caused by burnout all contribute to unsafe working conditions and errors," says Michael Kost, DNP, CRNA, CHSE, FAAN, director of healthcare simulation at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia.

Organizations that embody a true culture of safety encourage everyone to speak up if they have a concern. "Leadership must embrace an environment of open and honest communication, so staff don't fear repercussions for reporting an event," says Barbara Pelletreau, RN, MPH, senior vice president of patient safety at CommonSpirit Health in San Francisco. "All safety-first organizations adhere to rigorous protocols and safeguards because it's the right thing to do."

Encouraging staff to sound the alarm at the first sign that something's amiss is what all safety-centered organizations have in common. "We want our frontline team members to be very comfortable raising concerns to leadership," says Lisa Clark Pickett, MD, FACS, chief medical officer at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C. "We don't want staff who speak up to be seen as troublemakers — we want to thank them for raising a concern so we can address it."

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