Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tim's idea works!

I was a panelist today at the Ellison Pierce Symposium, a continuing medical education program run by Boston University School of Medicine. I had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by Timothy Babineau, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence. Tim gave a concise and cogent description of the problems involved in implementing a strong quality and safety program in an academic medical center. There is a facetious expression that, "you've seen one academic center, you've seen one academic medical center," but I saw an awful lot of similarities between Tim's campaign and our own. Nonetheless, I'm always searching for new ideas, and he provided one: Start each meeting with "did we harm or almost harm a patient this week" as a way of emphasizing the priority of this topic in the institution and of keeping the issue in the forefront of people's minds.

About an hour after returning to BIDMC, I happened to have town meeting with a group of our housekeepers and food service workers, and I decided to try out Tim's idea. Now, please recognize that these meetings usually focus on lots of other things that do not include patient quality and safety. You might guess the normal topics -- salaries, benefits, transport to work, and such. Nonetheless, I started by reminding them of our overall goals of trying to treat patients in a safe manner, and pointed out that they have more direct contact with patients than virtually anybody in the hospital. I stated that the best way for us to avoid harm to patients is to call out lapses in our performance as we see them, and I promised that they would never get in trouble for mentioning these kinds of situations or incidents. Then I asked if they had noticed anything recently that raised concerns for them. The ideas and suggestions started to pour out! They demonstrated a remarkable sophistication and depth of understanding of concepts related to infection control and other quality-related protocols.

Thanks, Tim!


Marty Bonick said...

This is a great idea! Will need to share with our leadership team as we are also searching for new ways to keep our quality and safety focus front and center. Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

That IS a great idea. Now let's see what happens when you try it at the next medical staff meeting, haha.


Anonymous said...

We discontinued medical staff meetings five years ago. No one was coming . . . which I guess proves your point!

Marty Bonick said...

We have the same problem with attendance at medical staff meetings. Procedurally, how do you communicate and educate medical staff about changes in policy, bylaws, etc without meetings?

Anonymous said...

Marty, this is typically difficult. At our hospitals we used to offer dinner as well as a raffle for a prize such as dinner at some local restaurant - the winner announced AFTER the meeting so only those still present could win. Corny,I know. We also had a newsletter, and much of the info was presented at departmental meetings, which were more likely to be attended.
There is also the 'ignorance of the law is no excuse' approach, where if they don't read the material, too bad because it's still enforced. I used to use this as medical lab director, but one has to have a thick skin.... (:

nonlocal MD