National Patient Safety Week, March 11-17

Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 11-17, is right around the corner. This year’s activities will focus on two critical issues – safety culture and patient engagement. This is the first Patient Safety Awareness Week since the National Patient Safety Foundation, lead sponsor of the event for 15 years, merged with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in 2017.

Throughout the week, IHI is encouraging those taking part in the event to share their activities on social media and on the event website, www.unitedforpatientsafety.org, where they can take a pledge for patient safety, get ideas for engaging staff and patients, download free resources, and order branded materials.

The safety culture focus of the week resonates well with the Massachusetts hospital community. Currently, many hospitals are on the journey to become “high-reliability organizations”, which operate in complex, high-hazard domains for extended periods without serious accidents or catastrophic failures. To become an HRO, an organization does not merely follow certain best practice processes for improving safety, but also changes its culture, ensuring that everyone on staff is ever-mindful of the need to relentlessly prioritize safety. Recently, Newton-Wellesley Hospital presented at a national conference on its journey towards becoming an HRO.

Since 2008, Massachusetts hospitals have used the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) to help build a strong safety culture to help lower infection rates. CUSP was created at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, piloted in 2004 at some Michigan hospitals, and then funded nationally through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

CUSP toolkits to fight central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), and surgical site infections (SSI), detail not only best clinical practices, but also how to change the culture of organizations to ensure clinical team members work together and that executive members are engaged in the science of safety.