How do hospitals measure patient safety? What factors go into determining how safe a hospital is for today's healthcare consumer? Dr. Patrick Cawley of the Medical University of South Carolina explains.¿
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Well, there’s a variety of ways. One important way is actually to measure the safety culture of a hospital. So how do you do that? Well, you actually interview and you ask the employees there. You send a survey out. We hear at MUSC, we do an annual survey and we simply ask, how do you feel about reporting problems. Are problems handled and we ask it’s about 20, 30 question survey that we ask every single year. What was happening around that is that many hospitals are using the same surveys, so revealing to be able to compare hospitals safety cultures. That’s only one way on looking at safety. I mean, other things that we set up, we set up reporting mechanisms which can be anonymous. So we want to encourage people to report problems, just by the industry has a mechanism to report anonymous things. Another way is that if we find a problem, we have a fairly robust investigation which—I hate to use the word investigation because it’s really about—we have a system we call the Sentinel Event System, where we actually through a very non punitive measures or methods actually seek to get at the root of the problem. It sounds easy to set up, but when somebody says investigation, people all the sudden, they don’t want to talk, but if you do it in a much more non punitive manner, you’ll be surprised at what you can find out. One other way is to have data. Just put the data together and report that back to people and we call that part of the quality improvement cycle, you’ll be surprised. If I give an information on something that you can change, then you will change and then wait to see what the report shows next month, and you’ll be surprised by this reporting some data back to people or groups of people you can get improvement.

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