Wednesday, March 16, 2016

High Reliability in Patient Care

In industries such as aviation and nuclear energy, even small flaws or errors can result in disasters. The “high reliability” approach was developed to avert these occurrences. A growing number of hospitals and health care systems are also using high reliability concepts to help ensure safety, quality and efficiency. Creating a culture and processes that radically reduce system failures and effectively respond when failures do occur is the goal of every high reliability organization (HRO).

“Patients rely on hospitals and caregivers to offer consistently high-quality care,” explained CHS’s Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, DO. “Under the leadership of The Joint Commission, health care providers across the nation are applying the methodologies of HROs.”

At the core of HROs are five key concepts, which are believed to be essential for any improvement initiative to succeed:

Sensitivity to operations: Preserving constant awareness by leaders and staff of the state of the systems and processes that affect patient care is key to identifying potential risks and preventing them.

Reluctance to simplify: Simple processes are good, but simplistic explanations for why things work or fail are risky.

Preoccupation with failure: Near-misses are viewed as evidence of systems that should be improved.

Deference to expertise: Leaders and supervisors must be willing to listen and respond to the insights of staff who know how specific processes really work in order to have a culture in which high reliability is possible.

Resilience: Leaders and staff need to be trained and prepared to know how to respond when system failures do occur.

“These concepts are taught to all our staff, and in health care we specifically focus on maintaining a culture of safety,” said Dr. O’Shaughnessy.

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