Speaking up patient safety initiative

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by Alexia Johnston

South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) staff are gaining the confidence to speak up for patient safety.

The move follows a survey which found one in five of DHB staff believed concerns they had about patient safety would not be listened to.

In the same survey, 45% of staff listed poor communication as a factor affecting their work performance.

As a result, an initiative through the Cognitive Institute has been adopted by the DHB to give all its staff the confidence to speak up.

The concept,Speaking Out for Safety, was driven by the board and has been supported by director of organisational capability and safety Robbie Moginie since its launch locally. It is being rolled out this month.

All DHB staff members will be trained through the programme.

Three hundred had signed up so far and would be trained to recognise when to speak up, Ms Moginie said.

“It’s going to improve patient safety.” – Robbie Moginie, of SCDHB.

Examples could involve drug doses and speaking up if someone noticed a patient in the waiting room who appeared to be deteriorating.

A basic example was handwashing, she said.

“We have targets in that, which are not 100%, interestingly. But, if we don’t wash our hands .. it could cause unintended patient harm.

“It sounds kind of obvious, but it gives people a common language they can use.”

That “language” would be universal across people in all sectors, including orderlies, contractors and cleaners.

The aim was to give feedback in a “respectful” way, she said.

It was designed to be constructive and, if nothing else, a friendly reminder to ensure everyone was doing their job as they should.

“The first step is getting everyone speaking the same language and realising this is how we operate in South Canterbury. It’s going to improve patient safety.”

SCDHB was one of the first to adopt the initiative, Ms Moginie said.

“It’s all about advocating for the patient,” she said.

She said Speaking Out for Safety was not a form of disciplinary action.