Successful Hospital Health and Safety Programs

University Medical Center at Brackenridge, Austin, Texas

A board member of this institution in 2005 asked how safe were employees and patients. After a study and comparison with other similar institutions, University Medical Center at Brackenridge determined that they were not among the best and immediately started to inquire how best to upgrade their program areas to become the best. The Board of Trustees and the chief operating officer developed a new safety culture to provide all employees from managers to field staff levels with the necessary tools, resources, authority, and accountability to integrate safety into every one of the daily activities. All individuals received intense training in safety problems and solutions for patients and employees.

St. Thomas Midtown Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee

The institution developed a program where employees were encouraged by leadership to consider safety to be a core business value. At the beginning of each day the chief operating officer first discusses safety and how to implement information found in case incident reports and solutions to the incidents. She also discusses what is going right and how to encourage it as well as what has gone wrong and how to correct it. As part of orientation for new employees, she stresses the importance and significance of safety and how best to work with your colleagues to prevent injuries and illness to staff and patients. Every other week senior managers make rounds throughout their departments to determine for themselves safe and unsafe practices in the institution.

Because of the profusion of different ethnic groups coming to the hospital and working for the hospital, there was a need to speak 17 different native languages. The hospital hired individuals who could speak each of these languages and then started a buddy system with individuals who spoke English. When new information needs to be dispersed, it is done rapidly and accurately.

Because of The Joint Commission accreditation all hospitals have to conduct annual reviews of programs and develop goals. St. Thomas utilizes this annual process as a way of integrating worker safety into the existing program of self-improvement. Each year the safety manager proposes a set of safety goals which is reviewed by various groups. These goals and objectives which are short-term and long-term, require continuous innovation and application of Best Practices to reduce employee and patient injury and illness.

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