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IHI: This Way to Patient Safety

By HealthLeaders Media News  
   January 31, 2017

A paper from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement offers strategies aimed at advancing patient safety via leadership, teamwork, negotiation, and transparency.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement released a 30-page policy paper Monday aimed at steering the nation's many patient safety efforts in the right direction.

The document, A Framework for Safe, Reliable, and Effective Care promises "in one place all the strategic, clinical, and operational concepts that are critical to achieving safe, reliable, and effective care."

IHI envisions a system of safety, "not just a collection of stand-alone safety improvement projects." The authors write: "The reality of today's healthcare environment is that the systems that support patient care are complex and error prone, and most organizations lack a comprehensive method for making them less so."


Listen: Derek Feeley, CEO of IHI, and President Emeritus Don Berwick, MD, MPP, FRCP, discuss the study, including the errors made in the name of patient safety, the glut of metrics, and the need for more science.


The paper offers strategies aimed at advancing patient safety issues in a range of areas, including leadership, teamwork, negotiation, transparency, reliability, improvement and measurement. It suggests a shift in approach in a number of areas and urges:

  • Proactive rather than reactive safety management.
     
  • Clinicians to investigate errors "to understand how things usually go right as a basis for explaining how things occasionally go wrong."
     
  • A shift in attitude "From fear, blame and liability to humility, trust, transparency."
     
  • Patient safety to be thought of as "more than the absence of physical harm, it is also the pursuit of dignity and equity."

The authors also characterize patient engagement and the engagement of patients' families as "the core of the framework… In safe and reliable organizations, patients and families are as much members of the care team as clinicians and other health care staff."

Additionally, the authors call for "leveraging improvement science to develop, test, implement, and spread changes that result in better outcomes."

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