This innovative program brings AMH leaders, including board members, to the bedside for a first-hand look and examination of the care delivery process. Occurring on a monthly basis, these rounds help leadership understand safety issues first hand through the power of direct observation and interface with front line staff. Examples of questions asked by Board Members such as Lorraine Pruitt, a member of the hospital's Board of Trustees, include:
- What's the next medical error that's likely to cause harm here?
- Do you feel safe to disclose when something wrong occurs?
- What experiences have you had regarding bad outcomes and what could we do to make things safer or better?
"These standardized, open-ended questions allow people at the front end of the care, at the bedside, to have input into what's safe, rather than it being delegated from on high," says Maureen Ann Frye, M.S.N., C.S., C.R.N.P, the director of the Center for Patient Safety and Health Care Quality (CSQ). "It helps bedside nurses recognize that senior leaders really do want to enable them to be the safest providers of care."
The leadership walk-around concept was developed by the American Hospital Association Health Research and Educational Trust. They are now a regular practice at Abington Memorial Hospital.
Pruitt, a non-clinician who, as a board of trustees member, has oversight on financial expenditures, agrees. "It's very worthwhile for board members like myself to have an opportunity to hear what the safety issues are right there on the floor from the nurses and nurse managers. They are very open, eager and willing to share both the good and the bad."
The walk-arounds have resulted in a number of improvements. For example, during one to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, nurses worried about safely evacuating the infants - many of whom receive highly flammable oxygen - in the event of a fire. As a result, says Pruitt, "We held fire drills that I think were pretty successful in working things out so the babies will be moved quickly but safely in case of fire."