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Health & Medicine

PeaceHealth Works To Improve Surgical Safety


PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend is implementing a new surgical safety program developed by the US Department of Defense. The first training is Friday at the Springfield hospital

Riverbend has earned industry recognition for surgical patient care as well as “middle of the road” scores on a national hospital safety ranking. Hospital staff says they want to get medical error rates to “near zero.” They believe TeamSTEPPS will help.

The safety program is designed to enhance operating room communication—a common reason for many accidents and errors in hospitals. Dr. Andrea Halliday is a practicing neurosurgeon and Patient Safety Officer.

Halliday: “Human beings make errors and if we are all on the same team, we can prevent any of those errors from reaching the patient. And, we’re practicing the communication skills with simulation.”

TeamSTEPPS consists of four basic practices: Call backs, when a request is repeated before acted upon. Handoffs, when a patient is transferred from one care setting to another and a check-list of all pertinent information is shared. Then there’s briefings and debriefings.

This Friday morning, the operating room at Riverbend will be closed for the three-hour training. Surgical teams will use a medical model to simulate a live patient and complications that might arise. Again, Dr. Halliday.

Halliday: “It’s not rocket science, it’s not brain surgery. It’s all very intuitive but it’s still something that needs to be practiced so that it becomes part of our behavior on a routine basis.”

The new protocols are expected to increase safety, improve quality of care and reduce costs.

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