As a former Gilchrist family member, Patient Safety Week rings close to my heart. I am now also a Gilchrist volunteer, honored to play a role in fulfilling Gilchrist’s mission, “Guiding the way, providing the finest care through the end of life.” We demonstrate “an unwavering commitment to what we do, through the education of our patients, families and the community through our interdisciplinary teamwork” and by “offering the greatest services, people and resources.”
Although achieving our mission is a clear and fixed target, each of our patients and families are refreshingly unique and constantly moving forward. In partnership with our patients and families, our interdisciplinary teams mold our policies, procedures and processes to create individualized, constantly evolving care plans. These plans give our patients and families the freedom to actively pursue their goals, with quality of life and in comfort. Purposefully embedded in every care plan is safety. And there it is – patient safety – the cornerstone of patients and families being able to achieve their goals.
As a volunteer, I am a proud member of the Gilchrist Quality and Education Department, and I can confidently state that our sights are firmly set on patient safety. So, how do we know if our patients are safe? Anecdotally, we hear ongoing stories from our families: frankly, some gush with praise that we have helped them beyond their wildest imagination. And in some instances we hear family concerns. These concerns and suggestions to improve safety come from patients, families but also from our staff. We want to hear everybody’s concerns because we can learn from them to improve safety and quality.
Yet anecdotes, emails and telephone calls go only so far. To quote an often used, but oh so true platitude, what you measure gets managed and what you manage gets done. So how do we get things started? From the top – it is the “lean” process-based management of Gilchrist that gives our staff the confidence to report the issues they encounter. Everyone understands that if we don’t know what is wrong, we can’t make it better. If a prescription isn’t delivered in a timely manner, we look to the medication reconciliation process to identify a way to remediate so there won’t be a delay the next time. If a patient falls, we look to help the family identify and remove potential hazards and look for other ways to make the situation safer.
So how do we measure all of this? We use Quantros, a patient safety and feedback software. Quantros, administered by the Quality and Education Department, provides a platform for reporting, consistently classifying and then quantifying patient care concerns. Using Quantos has been a continually improving process to capture as complete a population of concerns as possible based on all our sources. Staff are encouraged to use the software report, but given their hectic schedules, I am also available to enter the concerns they phone in or email.
As we see all the events, we can identify trends and then we are able to focus on areas for process improvement. Medication reconciliation, admissions, fall prevention are among the lean events that have been held to improve processes identified by analyzing Quantros data. With Quantros, we have the means to continue to monitor and provide feedback for process redesign/ improvement as many times as needed to keep moving toward improved patient safety. And as patient safety improves, the more energy and time patients and families will have to accomplish their own deeply personal missions thereby bestowing those priceless “final gifts” (Callanan and Kelly) that will impact “members of every generation even those yet to born.” (W.H.Thomas.)