In order for hospital executives to establish a safety culture, they must publicly show their support for patient safety and security. They must walk the walk, and one of the best ways to do that is to establish patient safety rounds. During these rounds, the executive team literally “manages by wandering around” visiting different patient care units to discuss safety with department heads and staff. These rounds can be used to informally gather information on the success of safety and security initiatives as well as to discover areas where more improvements could be made.Although the concept of MBWA is nothing new, according to the American Journal of Medical Quality, patient safety rounds were first established by the University of Michigan. Looking to involve all levels of staff and management in the prioritizing of hospital safety, the health system established routines that had hospital leadership visiting and meeting with caregivers on a biweekly basis. The outcomes of patient safety rounds proved to be significant, leading to many improvements in how the hospital addressed safety concerns.
Today, patient safety rounds are used by many medical institutions to not only improve the safety and security of patients and staff, but to develop a community among C-level executives, board members, chiefs of staff and the staff that works for them.
How Patient Safety Rounds Can Be Used Effectively
Patient safety rounds are a great vehicle for the delivery of safety and security updates. It’s important to continually keep all staff members informed about safety concerns and solutions. By making safety briefings a key component of the rounds, employees will not only be kept current on safety issues, but will also clearly see the importance leadership is placing on safety and security.
By having high-level management take part in these meetings, a cultural change among all members of the community can occur. Often, management leaders, especially those at the board or C-level position, are viewed as non-participatory. Safety rounds change this perception. A recent study of patient safety rounds in neonatal units showed a direct correlation between a reduction in burnout among caregivers and the number of successful patient safety rounds.
Patient safety rounds give staff members a safe environment in which to point out safety and/or security concerns that are not always easy to bring up to executives and management. Open lines of communication between staff and management can lead to long-term improvements, but the communication has to be based on trust. Employees need to know that they can report safety or security issues without fear of repercussion. They also should to see the results of their reports. Their concerns need to be heard, investigated and resolved.
How to Establish Patient Safety Rounds
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, gives the following tips for establishing successful patient safety rounds:

Get senior executives to commit to one hour per week.
Involve all senior executives.
Reschedule rounds if necessary, but never cancel them.
Keep discussions focused on safety.
Make sure executives follow up and provide feedback.

Leaders must also be aware of the results of their own attitudes when participating in the rounds. Visibly negative or complacent feelings will diminish the effectiveness of the rounds and may lead to the reluctance of staff members to participate openly in the discussions.
A safety culture cannot take root unless everyone in the facility is be actively involved in finding and correcting safety and security issues. The implementation of positive, productive and regular patient safety rounds drives that point home. For healthcare leaders, it’s time to do more than talk about safety and security, it’s time to walk the walk.

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