How Risk Management and Patient Safety Intersect: Strategies to Help Make It Happen
Engaging health care professionals and staff around reporting errors to reduce risk and improving the safety culture is a crucial but difficult task for many organizations. Unless staff members are engaged, feel safe to speak up, and are enabled to learn from the occurrence of preventable medical errors, poor patient outcomes will likely continue to occur. How organizational leaders respond to safety events and communicate to staff, patients, and family members following such events is key to building high reliability organizations and enhancing safety cultures.
A report published by the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute, Shining a Light: Safer Health Care Through Transparency, describes transparency as the most important element among the Institute’s recommendations necessary to transform the health care industry. In most organizations, the risk management and patient safety departments are separated in goals, scope, and leadership. In 2006 Virginia Mason chose to integrate the risk management function into the patient safety department and since then have utilized the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS) management methods, to continuously improve the patient safety system by enhancing transparency in reporting, disclosing, mitigating risk, and improving patient safety.
This article shares the journey of integrating patient safety and risk management and reports a 62% overall reduction in hospital professional liability premiums over 10 years that has occurred as a result of the integration and a dramatic increase in the reporting culture.
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