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Sharon Anderson
Senior Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety
Christiana Care Health System
New Castle, DE

There was a culture of fear when it came to reporting medical errors and near misses at Christiana Care Health System in 2001—76% of staff members' feared disciplinary action if caught making a mistake. Thanks, in part, to the system's safety mentor program, that dropped to 28% by 2006. And its reporting of near misses increased from 46 to 85 between 2003 and 2006.

Anderson: As we have gone along our safety journey, we recognized that unless we can take it to the bedside there is no impact. This was a way of engaging everyone in the organization . . . and having that liaison from the staff to senior leadership. We ask the department heads who would be a good safety mentor.

They should be working in that department at least six months, be able to serve as an ambassador, and really be a good communicator. We have bimonthly meetings and offer additional education. It is not a costly program to implement other than the time commitment.

Picking the right person to be a safety mentor is important. It has to be someone who is respected. Make it formal, use it as a recognition vehicle, and create time so they can do the work.

Carrie Vaughan

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