Improvement Stories

Patient Safety Awareness Week: At MGH, It’s the Week that lasts all year…



MGH celebrated the 2016 National Patient Safety Awareness Week (PSAW) from March 13th through March 19th.  During the week, the Edward P. Lawrence Center for Quality and Safety hosted a series of informational sessions and activities geared towar raising awareness and recognizing organizational efforts to keep our patients safe.

The Quality and Safety Forum on March 17th featured a presentation entitled, "The Power of Teamwork." With the 2016 PSAW theme of Speak Up for Safety in mind, Thor Sundt, M.D. Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery, presented the topic, "Learning from My Mistakes: The Power of Teamwork". Dr. Sundt shared exampled that demonstrated how complex healthcare systems create challanges for staff and patients. He offered approaches to reduce adverse events from occurring.

After the presentation, Dr. Thor Sundt was joined in a panel discussion by May Pian-Smith, MD from the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine and Steven Yule, PhD from the Medical Simulation Center at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. May serves as the Quality Chair and Director of Simulation, and is an Associate Professor of Anesthesia. Steven oversees the educational component of simulation-based training and has researched ways to improve OR safety and surgical outcomes for patients by focusing on intraoperative non-technical skills.  

The dialogue focused on the complexity of systems in healthcare, which goes beyond being complicated. Many in healthcare are prepared to approach complicated systems with a sense of self-reliance, but complex systems stretch across departments and time, making it not possible for one person to control all factors. A focus on cognitive psychology in healthcare supports the increased need for all team members to speak up because no one member of the team can see the entire system. Each member of the team brings their own unique strengths to situations that can help in supporting patient safety. The solutions are multi-faceted, but involve many components. The key component is communication. The discussion concluded with recognizing that improved teamwork is intentional and needs the involvement of every member of the healthcare team.  

In addition to the keynote presentation, the CQS sponsored a Patient Safety Stars awards breakfast. Drs. Peter Slavin and Elizabeth Mort were the guest speakers, offering the opening remarks for this celebration and addressing how staff’s efforts towards improving safety contributes to the mission at MGH. Over fifty MGH Patient Safety Stars were selected as staff that goes above and beyond every day to assure patient safety. The theme of “Speaking Up” was evident in the narratives that were shared highlighting each of the staff’s outstanding efforts. You can view the awards ceremony here    

The Center for Quality & Safety sponsored information tables at MGH for two days during PSAW. This was an opportunity for patients, visitors, and staff to speak with Quality & Safety staff from Imaging, Pathology, Nursing, Pediatrics, Interpreter’s Services, and the Anesthesia Department. These information tables were also available at MGH West/Waltham, MGH North Shore/Danvers, and at the health centers in Charlestown, Revere, and Chelsea.  

Overall, this was another successful PSAW in supporting MGH patients and staff to learn the importance of Speaking Up for Safety.  

Departments from across the institution developed important safety messages displayed on posters in a major hallway during Patient Safety Awareness Week.  You can view these posters by clicking here or the Spanish version of posters by clicking here.   Additionally, posters were created showing Safety Stars from previous years which can be viewed by clicking here.

To learn more about the choosing of Patient Safety Stars and the other celebrations during Patient Safety Awareness Week in 2016, we invite you to read the MGH Hotline  article from March 18, 2016.