Must-Have Elements of Any Patient Safety Assessment

How confident are you with your patient safety assessment? Perhaps the bigger question is whether your organization is even conducting such an assessment?

11 14

How confident are you with your patient safety assessment?

Perhaps the bigger question you should be asking is whether your organization is even conducting such an assessment at least once every two years?

With the growing healthcare focus on reducing preventable patient harm, health system executives have become increasingly aware of the link between patient safety and organizational culture. So much has been devoted to understanding patient safety culture that, in 2004, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture, which has been used by hundreds of hospitals around the world.

Assessing for Culture

What to include in your patient safety assessment depends largely on what your organization wants to achieve. If culture is an issue, then your patient safety assessment should incorporate the six main components of safety culture as identified by AHRQ.

  1. Communication patterns and language
  2. Feedback, reward, and corrective action practices
  3. Formal and informal leader actions and expectations
  4. Teamwork processes
  5. Resource allocation practices
  6. Error-detection and correction systems

But What of Outcomes Over Culture?

Obviously, patient safety ultimately means providing safer care. While the organization’s culture plays a role, eventually your organization has to assess not only its outcomes, but also the processes that are driving those outcomes.

With that in mind, Steven Meisel, a pharmacist at Fairview Health Services, created a patient safety self-assessment using information from a report published by AHRQ. The tool helps organizations evaluate whether 11 known safety practices are in place in their hospitals and to find areas for improvement. These 11 practices are:

  1. Appropriate use of prophylaxis to prevent venous thromboembolism
  2. Use of perioperative beta blockade to prevent perioperative morbidity and mortality
  3. Use of maximum sterile barriers while placing central intravenous catheters
  4. Antibiotics are appropriately used to prevent surgical site infections
  5. Asking the patient to recall and restate what they have been told during the informed consent process
  6. Continuous aspiration of subglottic secretions to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia
  7. Use of pressure relieving bedding materials to prevent pressure ulcers in older patients
  8. Real-time ultrasound is used to guide central line insertion
  9. Patients self-manage warfarin therapy
  10. Appropriate nutrition is provided, including early enteral feeding in critically ill and surgical patients
  11. Antibiotic-impregnated central venous catheters are used to prevent infections

Meisel’s self-assessment tool does require a bit of work. For instance, information must be collected on each of the 11 safety areas, which could include a review of patient records, direct observation, and an assessment of policies and procedures. Review and discuss any differences between perceptions and actual practice. However, the benefit of such rigor is that the organization will be able to identify areas of non-compliance and take corrective action.

Wait, We’re Not Done

There’s yet a third patient safety assessment you might want to consider. To help executives design safer work spaces, AHRQ funded the development of a Safety Risk Assessment Toolkit for facility designers. Developed by the Center for Health Design, the goal of the assessment is use enhanced facility design to improve patient safety in the following six areas:

  • Infections
  • Falls
  • Medication errors
  • Security
  • Injuries of behavioral health
  • Patient handling

The assessment addresses more than 200 potential environmental considerations for patient safety.

How to Bring It All Together

Regardless of how you assess patient safety in your organization, you need a way to not only capture and analyze the data, but also use that data to identify improvement opportunities. For this reason, Datix built DatixWeb, a web-based patient safety software solution for healthcare risk management applications, delivering safety, risk and governance elements through a variety of integrated software modules.

DatixWeb is the first stage in the Datix Quality Improvement Loop, which enables healthcare organizations where improvements can be made, showing undesired and unintended outcomes following delivery of care.

Sign up for blog updates
Book a demo
Contact us

Contact Us

We will respond to your query and deal with your personal data in accordance with our Privacy Policy. If you are an organisation already benefitting from, or likely to benefit from, Datix’s products and services, we may get in touch with you to consider this further.

Book a Demo

We will respond to your query and deal with your personal data in accordance with our Privacy Policy. If you are an organisation already benefitting from, or likely to benefit from, Datix’s products and services, we may get in touch with you to consider this further.