March 1, 2012

New survey to help assess VUMC’s patient safety culture

New survey to help assess VUMC’s patient safety culture

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is launching a staff and faculty survey on March 5 to assess attitudes and perceptions regarding patient safety.

The Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture, developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), is used in hundreds of hospitals around the country, and was last conducted at VUMC 18 months ago.

Advocates of the survey include health care payers and assessment groups, such as the Leapfrog Group and the Joint Commission.

The survey will be managed by the Office of Quality and Patient Safety, which plans to release it in stages to faculty and staff throughout the clinical enterprise.

“Patient safety is grounded in awareness and organizational culture; for example, where patient safety is concerned, staff, faculty and patients should never be hesitant to speak up and question each other’s habits and actions,” said Julie Morath, R.N., M.S., chief quality and safety officer.

“That level of trust, transparency and accountability needs to be part of our climate, needs to be demonstrated and encouraged at all levels of the organization. The AHRQ survey can help tell us the perceptions of our managers, frontline caregivers, residents and faculty about our safety performance and environment of respect and communication. This information directs improvement.”

This year, leaders at VUMC set various goals intended to advance a culture of patient safety, quality and reliability at the Medical Center, including repeating the AHRQ survey.

VUMC’s yearlong Quality and Patient Safety Pioneer Program provides education, training and assistance to participating groups as they design, implement and test performance improvements. Most of the participants have already taken the safety survey. With managers and medical directors encouraging survey participation, response rates have been exceptional.

To cap Patient Safety Awareness Week, which runs March 4-10, Pioneer Program participants will gather on March 9 for the second of this year’s four half-day learning sessions. Allan Frankel, M.D., will speak to the group on “Building a team-based learning system for reliability and resilience.”

Frankel was formerly the director of patient safety for the Partners Healthcare System, a Boston-based integrated delivery system comprised of major Harvard teaching hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.