The effectiveness of patient safety programs in hospitals can be impacted in a variety of ways. Efforts to improve patient safety can be hampered by poor communication, ineffective programs, and the punitive environment. Some hospitals have patient safety programs in place, but they are not always perceived as effective by the staff. The existence of the program does not affect the perception of its effectiveness so much as how it is implemented.
One medical malpractice insurer tries to increase patient safety by encouraging hospitals to develop and implement their own patient safety programs through a competition. The patient safety competition sponsored by Long Island-based Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers (PRI), which is one the nation’s largest medical malpractice insurer, is such a competition. One New York hospital, St. Charles Hospital, has won PRI’s Risk Management and Patient safety Best Practices Award for 2013. This award was established in 2011 to benefit the healthcare industry as a whole by promoting knowledge and adoption of best practices.
Patient safety needs to be a top priority, especially with the healthcare community facing the unique challenges today’s litigation prone marketplace. PRI recognizes this and it requires collaboration for its insureds to increase the priority for patient safety. The first place award was given to St. Charles Hospital for its program “Improving Patient Engagement by Active Rounding by Leadership” (I Pearl Program). This program promoted patient care and safety by adhering to quality improvement principals. The various leaders would visit newly admitted patients every day so that they could immediately resolve any issues that arose. Matters that were focused on were the patients physical comfort, communication, and providing the patient with support during times of high anxiety.
Resolving patient issues and ensuring their safety early in their care could be effective in increasing patient safety and reducing the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. Listening to patients and being available to address their concerns is a step in the right direction to improving patient safety.
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