Genesis Achieves Patient Safety Milestone
Zero Serious Safety Events
Zero. Zip. Nada.
The lowly zero can be one of the most powerful numbers in health care. Getting to zero Serious Safety Events (SSE) is a universal goal of hospitals and health systems across the country. Reaching the goal is extremely difficult and unusual for hospitals and even more exceptional for multi-hospital health systems.
Genesis Health System attained the goal of zero serious safety events in Fiscal Year 2017, ending June 30. The accomplishment places Genesis hospitals and clinics near the top for patient safety in the United States during the period.
“Reducing serious safety events for patients requires an enterprise-wide commitment to safety and high reliability practices, without exception,’’ said Gary Yates, M.D., Partner, Press Ganey Consulting. “This is an incredible accomplishment for the entire Genesis team, placing Genesis in the top 1 percent of organizations nationwide.
“Genesis truly is a national leader in patient safety and we applaud ongoing efforts to deliver safe patient care every day.’’
One definition of a Serious Safety Event (SSE) in a health care setting is, “deviation from generally accepted practice or process that reaches the patient and causes severe harm or death.’’
Safety Initiatives Implemented
The scale of harm can range from no harm to severe harm and death.
“This doesn’t mean we were perfect. Human mistakes are made at Genesis. They are made everywhere,” said Doug Cropper, president and CEO, Genesis Health System. “What it means is we have put into the Genesis culture effective mechanisms to identify mistakes before they reach the patient and create harm. Not only is it our goal, but it is our expectation. The Genesis goal will always be to prevent any level of harm to patients.
“Achieving zero Serious Safety Events is the culmination of years of constant attention to detail, training and education, along with policies implemented to prevent errors causing harm to patients.”
System-wide safety training was one of the procedures implemented to prevent errors causing harm to patients. All Genesis employees, including those who are not generally involved in the care of patients, take patient safety classes.
Another procedure to instill safety into the daily culture at Genesis is that staff meetings in all departments begin with safety stories and successes.
Cropper said he was hired by the Genesis Health System board in 2008 with the expectation he would improve patient safety. He immediately made patient safety a system-wide priority.
A personal experience influenced Cropper’s emphasis on providing the safest environment possible for patients. When he directed Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, the hospital experienced a safety error resulting in a patient death.
“We had a horrendous safety incident where we gave the wrong blood type to a patient in their mid-30s. I met with that family and talked about our mistake. It immediately changed my view and created the passion I now have for patient safety,’’ said Cropper, who has shared the story many times with Genesis employees. “I don’t want to ever have to meet another family to explain we made a terrible mistake causing the death of their loved one.
“Improving patient safety was why the Genesis board hired me. I had background and expertise in leading organizations to a higher level of patient safety. And, I had experienced a tragic safety event.’’
High Expectations for Safety
Cropper’s goal, also shared often with employees, is that Genesis will rank in the top 10 percent in the country for patient safety. Zero Serious Safety Events in Fiscal Year 2017 indicates Genesis Health System has achieved the goal.
“Every one of our employees should take pride in the care we are providing to our patients,’’ Cropper said. “The greatest statement about what zero Serious Safety Events mean is what this means to our patients. We are providing quality care and, as a health system, we are consistently doing no harm to patients.’’
Genesis Medical Center, Davenport was recently rated four stars, the highest rating in the region, by Hospital Compare, the hospital quality website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Genesis Medical Center, Silvis was rated three stars, which was equal or better than all other regional hospitals except its sister hospital in Davenport.
Genesis Medical Center, Davenport was ranked better than the national average by Hospital Compare for safety of care, mortality rate, timeliness of care and efficient use of medical imaging.
“That is a testament to the progress our staff has made in improving patient safety,’’ said Nidal Harb, M.D., chief medical officer, Genesis Health System. “Genesis has made steady improvement and will continue to improve safety for the benefit of our patients.’’
Reducing Serious Employee Injuries by Half
The health care industry has one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and illness. As part of its journey to become a safer organization, Genesis also has reduced serious employee injuries by 51 percent since fiscal year 2016.
What led to the dramatic decrease? The Genesis Health System Board of Directors made reducing employee injuries a top priority. Employees gave the issue increased focus and took part in numerous initiatives for their safety and well-being including:
SMART Movers, a training program and new specialized equipment to reduce patient-handling injuries. SMART stands for Safe Mobility and Repositioning Technology, and was an initiative led by the Employee Health team.
Standardized needles to reduce needle-sticks and exposures. By limiting the variety of needles, Genesis can deploy more effective standardized training and other precautions.
A safe walkways program to minimize slips, trips and falls by working with grounds crews to ensure these walkways are salted and shoveled.
Reducing patient and visitor assaults against the GHS workforce: Genesis convened a Patient Assault Task force to explore this unfortunate national trend. This led to several initiatives: a revised workplace violence policy, a new Code “A” (assault) process, and signs in Genesis buildings that warn violence will not be tolerated. The Genesis Way, the “Bill of Rights” for Genesis colleagues, was revised to show that risking their own safety is not part of the job. An alert within the electronic medical record indicates if a patient or family has a history of violent behavior giving colleagues an advanced warning of a patient or family’s propensity to violence. Staff has been trained in de-escalation techniques, and all employees, partner employees and volunteers attend Safety First and ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) active shooter training.
For additional information about the quality and safety of U.S. hospitals, go to www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare.