Involve facilities professionals in patient safety efforts, expert says

National Patient Safety Foundation President and CEO Tejal Gandhi, M.D., said it is important for healthcare systems to include facilities professionals alongside clinical teams for patient safety efforts.

In an interview with Hospital and Health Networks, Gandhi said people in those positions can offer a different and beneficial perspective on safety concerns. "Facilities professionals can see hazards that clinicians may not; for example, fall risks or poorly placed hand-hygiene stations," she said. "They also hear about things that clinicians may not hear, like a sick or frail patient's experience in navigating a lengthy journey from the radiology department to the orthopedic surgery clinic."

Educating and training facilities professionals to think about patient safety may require time and effort from leadership, Gandhi said, but having a training baseline allows those employees to speak up if they notice something concerning.

Gandhi noted several specific instances where these employees can contribute to patient safety initiatives. A facilities manager, for instance, may have insight on ways to a redesign to improve workflow and make it safer for clinicians, she suggested, or someone with a background in environmental science may notice a pattern in patient falls. 

She also encouraged facilities professionals to step up and volunteer for safety and quality committees if they are not currently represented, and to be unafraid to contact safety officers or risk management teams with concerns.

As a recent study found that medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the U.S., healthcare facilities must work create better cultures around safety among their staffs, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the interview

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