Safety isn’t just our policy, it’s our culture

August 3, 2021 Swedish Health Team

If you’ve ever walked around one of our five hospitals, you will quickly discover that safety isn’t just a policy, it’s a culture that’s lived out every day. That is by design.

Safety is one of our core values at Swedish, and for good reason. The Journal of General Internal Medicine estimates 22,000 preventable deaths happen in hospitals across the United States each year. That number is closer to 100,000 preventable deaths per year according to the Institute of Medicine. It’s not just deaths. Patient involved accidents that could have been prevented is also a key metric hospitals track.

Swedish is committed to reducing preventable incidents involving patients and has implemented a culture of safety that is grounded in the philosophy of “it takes a village.” From the Patient Safety and Risk Management office, to floor managers who focus on safety with their teams; from safety huddles that review Patient Safety Boards, to individual caregivers remaining cognizant of the care they provide to patients, safety at Swedish involves everyone.   

“Patient safety requires engagement from frontline caregivers and leaders to identify meaningful actions that address root causes of adverse events,” says Patient Safety Officer for Swedish Cherry Hill Jessica Yanny, MS, CNS, RN. “When we talk about patient safety, we’re really talking about how hospitals and other healthcare organizations protect their patients from errors, injuries, accidents and infections.”  

At Swedish, protecting our patients through a culture of safety means “building processes that move the organization from reactive to proactive,” Yanny says. One of those processes that encourages caregivers to be proactive with patient safety is the review and updating of Patient Safety Boards that are displayed on each hospital floor. Patient Safety Boards track preventable incidents that involve patients such as falls, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-associated bloodstream infection and hospital-acquired pressure injury.

In addition to Patient Safety Boards, Yanny says another strategy that has been deployed to change the culture at Swedish to one focused on safety is “through sharing lessons learned [and] telling stories broadly across the Swedish system.” One such tool was rolled-out this past spring called the Good Catch Award Program, which encourages the recognition and reporting of risks before a patient is harmed. Through the program, caregivers are recognized for a “Good Catch” or a near miss event that did not reach the patient because of the thoughtful actions of the caregiver.

The culture of patient safety at Swedish is palpable on every campus and has become a natural part of the high-quality care that Swedish is known for.

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