By Jack Gorero, MA, BSN, RN, CNML, Hospital Accreditation Program Nurse Surveyor, The Joint Commission
World Patient Safety Day, established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and recognized annually on September 17, offers an opportunity for healthcare providers to reflect on not only how we can improve the individual care we provide to patients, but how we can improve systems to achieve a world in which all people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value healthcare across all settings.
This year’s World Patient Safety Day theme is "Engaging patients for patient safety.” According to the WHO, when patients are treated as partners in their care, improvements are seen in safety, patient satisfaction and health outcomes.
As providers, we can take steps to encourage patients to become more involved in and more understanding of their own care.
Become a CHAMPION for Patient Engagement
As a surveyor for The Joint Commission’s Hospital Accreditation Program, I meet with healthcare leadership as well as direct care staff at hospitals throughout the country to talk about they can improve the delivery of care. I often share with them the acronym CHAMPION. CHAMPION outlines how providers can advocate for better patient care and champion patient engagement.
CHAMPION is not patient engagement-specific, but each letter of the acronym can inspire renewed focus on the patient.
C: Communication is key. Providers should aim to keep their patients up to date on developments in a way they can understand – while still inviting them into nuanced conversations about decisions up to the provider and those up to the patient. Additionally, patients and their advocates provide a wealth of knowledge, informing medical history, symptoms experienced, medications and allergies. This knowledge can help providers tailor plans appropriate to the medical needs and the lived experiences of patients and families.
H: Hand-off effectively. In developing a successful hand-off protocol, providers can consider including the outgoing and incoming team members and, when appropriate, the patient and family. This way, patients can meet the entire care team alongside the providers they already know.
A: Embolden attention to detail – and bring the patient into a conversation about those details. For example, providers can narrate to their patients when they are performing hand hygiene to prevent infection or that they’re going to draw a curtain for privacy. Communicating these details may seem small, but patients appreciate the attention to detail. They also learn about the steps a provider should take to provide more compassionate care, allowing them to better advocate for themselves in the future.
M: Mentor and coach each other. To foster an environment of continuous improvement, healthcare providers can pass on and accept knowledge from others, including feedback and advice on how to better involve patients in their own care.
P: Practice a questioning attitude. Providers never stop learning – and are never too experienced to avoid mistakes. By asking for patient names, confirming the right medications, right site and right procedure, and speaking up when something doesn’t sound right, providers can include the patient in every step to ensure safer care.
I: Implement an inclusive and diverse approach. Providers can participate in discussions with their patients about how their lived experiences affect their care. For example, follow up plans for patients living in rural areas facing lack of regular access can make use of telehealth appointments to the extent possible.
O: Openness is essential to the patient-provider relationship. Being open with patients about policies and procedures, decisions, as well as their options, diagnoses and all other parts of their care, can help them feel comfortable – allowing providers to offer the best care possible. Providers should thank their patients when they’re open.
N: Finally, a nurturing demeanor helps patients know they are being taken care of and that they are safe, giving them the confidence that they need to become engaged in their own care.
Engaging Patients for Patient Safety
This year’s theme “Engaging Patients for Patient Safety” highlights that the patient is central to all we do in healthcare. Providers can remember the phrase as well as the acronym CHAMPION on World Patient Safety Day (and throughout the year) to remind them of their own role and responsibilities as an advocate for patient engagement.
The Joint Commission has developed and compiled numerous resources for World Patient Safety Day, including video messages from staff, a new Speak Up consumer education campaign on preventing serious illness and more. Visit the webpage.
Jack Gorero, MA, BSN, RN, CNML, is a full-time nurse surveyor for The Joint Commission’s Hospital Accreditation Program. He is also a surveyor for The Joint Commission’s new Health Care Equity Certification Program. Mr. Gorero has been a registered nurse for more than 30 years. He has a diverse clinical and leadership background in cardiology, oncology, critical care, behavioral health, and diagnostic imaging. Mr. Gorero is a highly regarded and passionate nurse leader whose career fuses education, practice, research and community service through innovative and transformative strategies. Prior to joining The Joint Commission, he was a nurse leader at four different healthcare systems in Connecticut: VA Connecticut Medical Center, Yale New Haven Health, Hartford Healthcare and the State of Connecticut.