Increasing Patient Safety
There is an effort underway in hospitals nationwide to stem the occurrence of operating room mistakes and hospital acquired infections.
Dr. Scott Ellner, a trauma surgeon and director of surgical quality at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, says that although the risk of dying after a hospital admission is low, health care is hazardous and hospitals should have systems in place to protect patients.
Ellner is pushing for a cultural change within hospitals nationwide aimed at preventing errors using methods as complex as analysis of data that shows rates of infection, pneumonia, and other hospital-acquired infections and as basic as improving collaboration between staff, calling colleagues by their first names, and following a checklist to ensure that the proper steps are taken before and after surgery.
The idea of emphasizing the doctor as part of a team that includes other staff members requires a leveling of authority that makes everyone feel comfortable speaking on behalf of the patient, regardless of role. Ellner says it comes down to communication and respect.
Although cultural change is difficult, evidence of lowered infection rates and other complications, may make hospital staff more eager to adopt these changes.