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Articles, Thought Leadership

A Marathon to Patient Safety

Posted: October 11, 2018 at 10:53 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
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We’ve said it here before: leading for safety is a marathon, not a sprint!

Like all good marathoners, we’re prepared for the long haul and are determined to go the distance. With that in mind, it may not surprise you that it has been a full year since the ACHE, in partnership with the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute (NPSF LLI), released Leading a Culture of Safety: A Blueprint for Success.

Perhaps in that time you have reached the first milestones in your marathon, or maybe you’re just now tying on your shoes and adjusting your bib—either way, there is still a long way to go in your organization’s journey to zero patient harm. It might be the right time now for a little inspiration: read “Partnering to Lead a Culture of Safety,” by Gary Kaplan, Tejal Gandhi, Deborah Bowen, and Charles Stokes, for a refresher on why the ACHE has teamed up with the NPSF LLI to help you and your executive-team colleagues learn to lead a culture of safety in your organization. You may wish to think of the ACHE and NPSF LLI as your distance-running coaches for this long journey.

According to the authors, these coaches have determined that the essential first step in your marathon toward safe, high-quality healthcare is to build a safety culture in your organization. And, they say, the only way to transform a culture is to start with strong, committed leaders who convey urgency. “Without urgency, there can be no change, because the status quo is a powerful inhibitor,” they caution.

“Absent a true culture of safety, improvements…are difficult to sustain. Absent strong leadership, a culture of safety is difficult to develop and nurture,” write the authors.

Leaders must also commit to transparency in all organizational transactions and communications, and create a workable, reliable process for addressing safety concerns. To assure these priorities can be achieved, it is essential to engage all leaders: from the CEO to the trustees to the front-line clinical and administrative managers. “Strong leadership is…shared leadership,” Kaplan and his co-authors write.

Our coaches have adopted the belief of the LLI that “Safety needs to be much more than just another priority; it must be embraced as a core value of an entire organization—in fact, as a moral and ethical imperative in healthcare.”

If you haven’t done it yet, it’s time: tie on those running shoes and get moving. The authors agree, “…there is no better time to begin than now. It is the duty of healthcare leaders to protect their patients and their workforce and to aim for zero preventable harm.”

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