Showcasing leadership through patient safety at Humber River Hospital

At Toronto’s Humber River Hospital (HRH), patient safety is at the forefront of delivering quality care to the Hospital’s patients and community.

It’s so important that the hospital developed a specialized program – using the leading patient safety program from the world renowned Institute for Healthcare Improvement – to create a customized course, for HRH leaders, ensuring patient safety has a uniform and standardized approach across the organization.

“Standardizing our approach to patient safety is an important focus in our department and throughout our hospital,” said Deborah Mercer Dennie, Humber River’s Director of Education, Quality Support and Risk Management.  “In putting together a certificate program we wanted to ensure a sound understanding by HRH leaders of the fundamentals of patient safety; improve patient safety through the use of consistent approaches and further develop a culture of safety at Humber River Hospital.”

But that’s not all.  Dennie and Jill Green, HRH Patient Safety Specialist created a one-of-a kind program containing an array of modules and projects suitable for the versatile and diverse leadership at Humber River – addressing a wide variety of possible patient safety incidents that occur in a larger acute care hospital setting.  The leadership group included Directors, Managers, Clinical Practice Leaders Infection Prevention and Control Coordinators and Professional Practice Leaders.

“It is a multimedia learning approach that is effective in conveying theoretical information about patient safety as well as providing real life incidents that may occur at any hospital, including possible medication errors and problems with equipment due to technology automation, ” noted Paula Villafana, HRH Program Director for Mental Health and Addictions.  “The program emphasized that patient safety is a way of thinking and I came away from the course feeling as though I have the tools to deal with any patient-safety related situation – from individual and system issues to effective teamwork and communication.”

The certificate program – which takes four months to complete and is comprised of case studies, modules, videos, facilitative workshops, group work and an exciting online learning platform – was a mandatory course introduced last November and had been in the planning stages for several months before its launch.

“This is a very comprehensive program that helps to convey the importance of patient safety initiatives and training, including James Reason’s unsafe acts; human factors design principles; incident analysis; critical incidents; disclosure process and strategies to develop a culture of safety,” added Green.

Compiling these learning elements into a unique ‘hands-on’ structure proved to be rewarding and successful for Dennie and Green.  When the course finished in March, they were excited to have achieved a 100 per cent completion rate by the 75 leaders who participated.  They also received excellent feedback on the program and its varying modes of delivery.

“Nothing less than the best is going to do at Humber River,” said Phillip Laundry, Clinical Practice Leader in the HRH Surgical Program.  “We can sit here and say we post all of our results on many clinical indicators but it’s also a matter of what we do going forward with these results.  Using a program like this enhances what the leaders already know and is certainly adds to our knowledge and skill set, especially with its solid focus on patient and family -centered care,” he added.   “It is simple: we are further educating our own people in a culture of patient safety and that says a lot about our hospital and the dedication that’s here.”

“The enthusiasm from our teams and the results we achieved indicates a huge commitment to ensuring we do the best possible to keep our patients safe at all times,” added Villafana.  “We acknowledge that invariably there are times that something may go amiss but we are using those opportunities to learn, problem solve and work together effectively,” she added.  “Those learning experiences are real and to be able to take this information and apply it to something you are experiencing in your everyday work environment is very impactful and important.”

With the success of standardizing an approach to patient safety well in hand Dennie and Green aren’t stopping now.  They have already begun planning part two of the course.

“We are excited to be focusing on quality improvement and standardizing this approach to quality care at our hospital,” said Dennie.  “We began with our leadership team but eventually we would like to open the course up to all staff in many roles throughout our hospital,” she added.  Patient safety is everyone’s business and it’s our first priority at Humber River.