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By their nature, healthcare systems are complex and high-risk. Hospitals in particular are rich with characteristics that increase the potential for errors including complex processes and technology, the need for multiple teams (with rotating members) to communicate and hand off to each other, and an unforgiving social and political environment.
Yet unlike other high-risk industries, healthcare, historically, has not developed the structures, processes, operational rules and culture to become a high reliability environment that provides safe care, and as a result, patients across the nation are harmed at an unacceptable rate (To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System and Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century).
At Cincinnati Children’s, we believe that keeping our patients and employees safe is a precondition for everything we do. Safety is central to delivering the best-in-class outcomes we are committed to and is a fundamental right of the parents who bring their children to us for care. It is the reason we ask patients and families to sit on our boards, participate in our improvement work and help us design care delivery. We hope they will push us out of our comfort zone and eradicate a common belief in healthcare − that harm is an eventuality that comes with taking care of very sick kids. Stephen Muething, MD, vice president for safety, leads our efforts.
Though patient safety has been a strategic priority for our institution for many years, it wasn’t until we began work to become a high reliability organization that we recognized the inherent link between employee and patient safety.
Cincinnati Children’s is now pursuing two strategic safety-related goals:
We have accomplished much since we began our safety work, but believe we are on a journey that is never-ending.
At Cincinnati Children’s, the responsibility for safety belongs to each and every one of us.
The medical center takes a comprehensive, system approach to achieve our safety goals.
We continuously seek ideas on how to improve our safety performance from outside our hospital.
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