What does it take to improve patient safety? The safest healthcare organizations are those that have transformed their organizational culture to one focused on safety. Safe hospitals not only implement safety processes and procedures, but maintain the vigilant attitude and ongoing commitment needed to prevent hazards at their facilities. And it starts at the top. An organization can improve and maintain safety standards only when leaders are visibly committed to patient welfare, and they create an environment where staff can report unsafe or hazardous conditions without fear of retaliation.

What do the executive leaders of healthcare organizations need to do to perpetuate a culture of vigilance and safety?

Executives must publicly embrace the importance of patient safety. Leaders must be on the front lines of educating their staff and communicating the direction of the organization. The CEO can speak to the entire organization. The other C-suite executives can speak to their own internal organizations.
Executives must empower their subordinates. The directors and managers within the healthcare organization must have clear direction, communication and leadership from those above. The leaders within the organization must embrace the idea, make it part of their department’s culture and hold everyone accountable. Every department and employee in a healthcare facility must play an active role in transforming the culture.
Executives must involve everyone in creating a system with consistent rules and guidelines across the organization. Cross-functional teams can work on identifying the pieces needed for creating such a system. They can create a system that works for the organization while meeting the needs of any external stakeholders.
Everyone in the hospital must have responsibility for quality management and for creating a safe work environment. This means, if a nurse or technician sees a vendor representative walking through the halls without proper credentials, he or she will direct that person to security or the front desk. It means that everyone in the organization, from outside contractors to directors, must have HIPAA training and get seasonal flu vaccinations.
There are no exemptions in the organization. No one, including the physicians, administrative staff, or the C-suite executives, should be able to bypass the safety net in place. If any one group has an exemption, it undermines the integrity of the entire system.
Everyone needs a voice. There must be a way for anyone in the healthcare facility to voice a complaint or a suggestion. Moreover, these concerns and inquiries must get appropriate attention at the proper levels. That means if a janitor sees vendors regularly bypassing the check-in system, that person should know where to bring that concern and who will handle it. In order to keep employees engaged, they need to be able to trust that action will be taken on any unsafe conditions they report.
The drive for delivering safe patient services must be a never-ending effort. Setting up the culture of safety and vigilance is just the first step. Those in the boardroom must make it a priority going forward.

If your healthcare facility is ready to create a safety culture, contact us . Our experts can help you transform your facility into one of safety, security and vigilance.

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