Culture of Safety
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth fosters a commitment to safety at all levels of the organization, from frontline providers to managers and executives. This commitment establishes a "culture of safety" that encompasses these key features:
- acknowledgment of the high-risk nature of many patient care activities and the determination to achieve consistently safe outcomes
- a blame-free environment where the focus is on improving processes and systems, and individuals are able to report errors or near misses without fear of reprimand or punishment
- encouragement of collaboration across ranks and disciplines to seek solutions to patient safety issues
- organizational commitment of resources to address safety concerns
An important part of this “culture of safety” is to involve our patients and families in their care and to encourage them to be active participants. Naval Medical Center Portsmouth supports several Department of Defense (DoD) and national health safety organizations programs that assist in the endeavor to get patients more involved in their care. The DoD’s “TEAMup For Your Care!” program encourages patients and families to:
- Team up with the active members of the health care team
- Educate themselves on their particular health care issues
- Ask questions related to their medical issues and the plan to address those issues
- Manage the prescription and over-the-counter medications being taken
- Understand changes in the plan of care
- Provide your perspective to the health care team
The National Patient Safety Foundation
The National Patient Safety Foundation provides a variety of resources to support health care professionals in their critical role in creating and maintaining a safe health care environment. It also provides tools and tips to help patients stay safe and ensure the safety of loved ones as they participate in the health care system. In an effort to improve communications in the health care setting, the National Patient Safety Foundation’s AskMe3™ program provides three good questions to ask every time you talk to a provider, nurse or pharmacist. These questions include:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
The National Patient Safety Foundation web site provides additional information for consumers regarding their role in making health care safe.
The Joint Commission’s SpeakUp™ program also encourages patient and family involvement in health care decisions. In March 2002, The Joint Commission, together with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, launched a national campaign to urge patients to take a role in preventing health care errors by becoming active, involved and informed participants on the health care team. The Joint Commission provides brochures on a wide array of general and specific health care topics. Each brochure suggests questions that patients and family members can ask of their health care team.
Medication Reconciliation and Medication Wallet Card
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth supports and even expects patient involvement as part of the health care team. We recognized that safe use of medications is a critical component of patient safety. With that in mind we developed two key medication safety initiatives. The first was the development of a Medication Wallet Card. This small, green card provides space for patients to record and carry with them important medication and other health care information. The other initiative complements the Medication Wallet Card program and involves reconciling medications with each patient encounter. Medication Reconciliation involves a review of current prescription, over-the-counter and herbal medications during check in and again when any new medications are ordered. This helps minimize the chance of an adverse reaction due to incompatible medications.
TeamSTEPPS improves staff knowledge, skills, and attitudes as a team focusing on leadership, mutual support, situation monitoring, and communication in order to enhance the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare.