As we celebrate National Patient Safety Week, I remember the experience of when one of my family members was the patient.
From the lens of a family member you gain a different appreciation for the absolute importance that each member of the team has to assure patients receive optimal care in a safe environment.
Patient Safety: A Personal Experience
Participating in the care of my father this past year, I observed countless team members at his local hospital doing their part to provide therapy, assessments, meals, transport, housekeeping and many other services. So many many people orchestrated so many daily details to assure to fulfill his care plan.
I remember thinking that my dad, without realizing it, relied on a team of people to do their best in every moment to provide him with the care he needed. So much can go wrong when just one part of that complex team breaks down. It’s humbling to put the care of someone you love so much in the hands of others. It requires faith in the system.
Patient Safety: Importance of the Healthcare Team
To deliver safe, quality care in such a highly complex environment “takes a village”. As members of the healthcare team, we must each understand our roles and commit to doing our absolute best in each moment for our patients.
What I also realized during my dad’s illness was the important role I played as his daughter. I needed to be part of the care team, supporting my dad when he was unable to support himself by being present and engaged with his care team so together we could provide the right care for him.
United for Patient Safety
The theme of National Patient Safety Week 2018 is United for Patient Safety. As I think about the meanings for this year’s theme, three key messages emerge for me:
- When individuals take personal accountability in their roles they strengthen the teams on which they serve
- When teams work well together, patients are safer
- When we truly engage patients and families as part of the team, the care is better.
No matter what role you play at the UVM Medical Center, strive to be the best you can be at whatever that role is. Do your part to call out safety risks or vulnerabilities in our systems. For the sake of our patients (who by the way are our neighbors, our friends, our families), we must be United for Patient Safety. It’s our promise to our patients.
Kate Fitzpatrick, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is chief nursing officer at the University of Vermont Medical Center. She is also associate dean for interprofessional practice at the UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences.