EMS Week Spotlight: Lee Varner

The Center for Patient Safety is proud of our diverse team and is especially proud of our Patient Safety Director, Lee Varner, MSEMS, EMT-P, CPPS. Having spent much of his time in EMS throughout his career, he now enters his third year with the Center in a supporting role. He is a valuable resource to all of our participating organizations. We recently sat down with Lee and asked him a few questions…

Q: What first interested you in healthcare?
I’ve always had an interest in science but it wasn’t until I took an EMT class that I made a connection between science and helping people.  From there I then went on to paramedic school and worked in various roles in EMS but some of my most rewarding years were working as a frontline paramedic.

Q: Why is patient safety important to you?
I find the topic of patient safety extremely interesting, specifically, understanding why mistakes occur in healthcare.  This in turn has offered me an opportunity to learn about new principles, philosophies and concepts and then how to apply them to EMS. 

Q: What do you miss most about working on the front lines (or in a care setting)?
I still live in the same community where I worked as a paramedic.  When I see an ambulance I always look to see if I know the crew  and wonder what type of call they might be running on.  I think it was that “wonder”  that I miss the most as you never knew what to expect one duty day from the next as each day was always different.  Some shifts operated at a very high level of intensity that might leave you drained physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally.  But I found it was the teamwork and coordinated efforts of everyone working together to help others very appealing.  

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at the Center for Patient Safety?
There are many areas I find rewarding, one of which is being part of a such a committed team .  In addition, the opportunity to always be learning from each other as we all come unique backgrounds in healthcare.  I also appreciate the culture of the Center as we truly practice what we preach when it comes to working in a culture that supports a model of shared accountability.  It’s a learning environment where we are always focused on improving the quality of our services that to the many organizations that we work with.  

Q: Based on your experience in the healthcare provider setting, and your experience at the Center, what is your message to other [nurses/LTC/EMS/Hospitals]?
As a provider, working day in and day out it’s easy to forget the positive impact that you make in people’s lives.  Recently our local  EMS responded to a family member and I was so thankful to see them.  My message is to never underestimate the difference you make in peoples lives.   

Q: What is your greatest achievement around patient safety (either in a previous job or current job)?
I would have to say it’s been the EMSFORWARD safety campaign that we started last year.  The project has been a collaborative effort at CPS so I can’t take all the credit but more importantly it’s been rewarding to watch it grow and gain more attention

Q: What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was “Talk like Ted”, the 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo.  The book offered me a lot of inspiration in the development of patient safety content and material as we work with EMS

Q: Who do you admire?
I admire the many EMS professionals who are out there working every day  behind the scenes often with little recognition or support. 

Q: Anything else you’d like to share – interesting tidbits about where you’ve lived, where you’ve worked, about spouse, children or grandchildren, etc?
My wife and I recently downsized and moved to a town home on main street in Saint Charles, Missouri.  We are close to the Katy trail where we can bike and run as well as enjoy the many activities taking place in the community.

Great Read – IHI Reliability Article

IHI recently shared good advice on how to improve care to lessen the likelihood of human error.  Systems and processes can be made more reliable by standardizing, simplifying, reducing autonomy and highlighting deviation from practice.  Read article.

 

 

Nursing Home Week Spotlight: Kathy Wire

The Center for Patient Safety is proud of our diverse team and is especially proud of our Patient Safety Specialist, Kathryn Wire, JD, MBA, CPHRM, CPPS. Having spent much of her time in nursing homes, hospitals and health systems throughout her career, she now enters her tenth year with the Center in a supporting role. She is a valuable resource to all of our participating organizations. We recently sat down with Kathy and asked her a few questions…

Q: What first interested you in healthcare?
I stumbled into healthcare when I began defending hospitals in my first job at a law firm.  Within a few years, I moved into the field full-time, working for a hospital.

Q: Why is patient safety important to you?
I have always worked in patient safety in some form.  Initially, it was a way of preventing exposure in lawsuits.  But it became clear that our goal had to be good care, not just avoiding legal losses.  Then, there was not a “patient safety” function in the organizational structure, but it was the end result of doing work well.

Q: What do you miss most about working on the front lines (or in a care setting)?
I miss the contact with the people we work for and the fast pace of work.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at the Center for Patient Safety?
CPS has a great bunch of people who all just want to make care better. 

Q: Based on your experience in the healthcare provider setting, and your experience at the Center, what is your message to other [nurses/LTC/EMS/Hospitals]?We have to look at safety issues with an attitude of abundance:  “We can make this better.”  The rest is details.

Q: What is your greatest achievement around patient safety (either in a previous job or current job)?
Early in my career, I worked very hard to move the focus from lawsuit losses to performance improvement and managing communication and conflict with our patients and families.  It is both satisfying and frustrating to see that so much of the healthcare industry is still struggling to make that transition 20 years later.  But every bit of progress helps.

Q: What was the last book you read?
The Girl on the Train

Q: Who do you admire?
The women on the Supreme Court.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share – interesting tidbits about where you’ve lived, where you’ve worked, about spouse, children or grandchildren, etc?
I was raised in a family that stressed generosity with time, treasure and talent.  I hope I can continue that theme and I am proud of the fact that my kids and bonus (in-law) kids all work in helping professions and have followed a similar path. 

 

Hospital Week Spotlight: Eunice Halverson

The Center for Patient Safety is proud of our diverse team and is especially proud of our Patient Safety Specialist, Eunice Halverson, MA, CPPS. Having spent much of her time in hospitals and health systems throughout her career, she now enters her sixth year with the Center. She is a valuable resource to all of our participating organizations. We recently sat down with Eunice and asked her a few questions…

Q: What first interested you in healthcare?
I landed in healthcare by chance, I guess.  I needed a job when we moved to St. Louis from Minnesota as my husband was in school.  I was offered a position at St. Mary’s Health Center in St. Louis and I’ve been in healthcare ever since.  I had never worked in healthcare and I loved it.

Q: Why is patient safety important to you?
I’m not a nurse, but I love that we can make a difference to patient outcomes without being a direct healthcare provider.  I was a risk manager for many years, so I know how many errors occur and I also know that improving processes directly impacts the likelihood of errors occurring.

Q: What do you miss most about working on the front lines (or in a care setting)?
I loved working in the hospital with all the front line providers.  They have such a passion for their patients.  We had a mutual respect for each other, always working to provide the best care for every patient.  I’m still friends with many of them.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at the Center for Patient Safety?
I love working with providers across the continuum of care.  Prior to coming to the Center, I had only worked on the acute care side, both in the hospital and at the system office.  I have learned so much about the EMS profession, and I find them very eager to learn how to improve patient safety.  CPS has a great team of patient safety professionals who all believe in the Center’s mission to be a leader in providing creative solutions and resources to improve patient safety.

Q: Based on your experience in the healthcare provider setting, and your experience at the Center, what is your message to other Hospital Professionals or Healthcare Professionals?
Don’t ever give up improving your delivery of care for patients.  Treat each one as if he or she was your loved one, always providing compassionate, safe care.

Q: What is your greatest achievement around patient safety (either in a previous job or current job)?
Wow – I’ve been privileged to achieve so many things in my career.  One of the highlights was assisting SSM Health become the first healthcare organization in the nation to receive the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award, which included providing safe care.  I also loved working with a team to develop and deploy the “Always Safe” program across the SSM system so that every employee, physician, patient and family member knew we were focusing on providing safe care.  Recently it’s been my privilege to lead development of the Center’s EMS Patient Safety Bootcamp which we debuted in Ft. Myers, FL early in March.  Improving patient safety is so much fun!

Q: What was the last book you read?
The Berenstain Bear’s Big Honey Hunt – I love reading to my grandkids!

Q: Who do you admire?
Sr. Mary Jean Ryan, past CEO of SSM Health, had a life-changing impact on my profession as well as my personal life.  She taught me that we can always improve, no matter what.  It is now the way I think:  how can I improve that process?

Nurses Week Spotlight: Tina Hilmas

The Center for Patient Safety is proud of our diverse team and is especially proud of our nurse and Assistant Director, Tina Hilmas, RN, BSN, CPPS. Tina has been with the Center for almost 3 years and is a valuable resource to all of our participating organizations. We recently sat down with Tina and asked her a few questions…

Q: What first interested you in healthcare?
I’ve battled asthma all my life and originally wanted to be a pulmonary specialist, then got sidetracked and wanted to go into geology and archaeology.  Because of my asthma, that wasn’t feasible, so I came back to healthcare. I liked the personal touch of nursing.  Neonatal ICU nursing was my first love! As I became involved with home care, it became an area of importance. Patients are being discharged home in more acute conditions than before and also because our nation wants us to age at home.  So healthcare provided in the home is vitally important.

Q: Why is patient safety important to you?
It has always been important to me. Working with premature infants, medication dosing is so important.  An error 0.1 mg can have a catastrophic effect on these infants.  So safety was always a priority in everything we did as they were such a vulnerable group. In home care it became important. Home care safety is a high priority to help prevent falls, medication education, and lifestyle changes to improve health.

Q: What do you miss most about working on the front lines (or in a care setting)?
The interaction with the family and the comradery.  I also miss the joy when a baby improved or you told the family when they were going to be able to take their baby home.  In home care, I always enjoyed visiting the patients and spending time with them.  Many of our elderly are homebound and don’t have much social interaction.  It was always fun and rewarding to be able to spend time with them and brighten their day a bit.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at the Center for Patient Safety?
I love being able to work across the continuum of care!  I love helping people, so I’m helping them just in a different way.  I love hearing what their challenges are and trying to find creative ways to handle those challenges to help them improve patient care. It’s very rewarding!  Plus I get to play with data and I love data and numbers!

Q: Based on your experience in the healthcare provider setting, and your experience at the Center, what is your message to other Nurses or other Healthcare Professionals?
My message to other nurses from being an active nurse and my experience at the Center is to keep your mind open.  Be accepting and understanding of all your patients backgrounds, their culture. Don’t use ‘hospital language’ when teaching your patients, use words that can be easily understood.  Try to use your patients backgrounds as a foundation for teaching them and advocating for them.  Above all else, always be an advocate for your patient! It’s hard these days with staffing, but without nurses as a go-between for patients and the healthcare system, patients would be even more lost.

Q: What is your greatest achievement around patient safety (either in a previous job or current job)?
Oh gosh, I can’t think of one single achievement, it’s several little ones that I remember the most.  But if I keep it to just patient safety, I think when I received my certification in patient safety, I was pretty excited about that.  But it’s more than that I think.  It’s just being able to help others understand how patient safety is intertwined in everything we do in healthcare.

Q: What was the last book you read?
My New Year’s Resolution this year was to become more aware of what is going on in the world, especially as my youngest will be a senior in high school next year and my oldest two will be out of college.  So I’m currently reading “A World in Disarray” by Richard Haass.  It’s actually quite interesting!

Q: Who do you admire?
Mother Teresa, or now she is known of St. Teresa of Calcutta.  Her care for the poor, the dying, the sick, and the children was absolutely astounding and humbling.  She gave so much of herself to help those in need.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share – interesting tidbits about where you’ve lived, where you’ve worked, about spouse, children or grandchildren, etc?
I’m a very devoted Ohio State Buckeye! Having gone to The Ohio State University, and grown up in the Buckeye state, it’s in my blood! I’m very proud of my husband who is a professor at the Missouri University of Science & Technology and also my 3 daughters! My oldest is in grad school at The University of Michigan (Yep that school up north!), my middle daughter is graduating in a week from Mizzou in education and has a teaching job in Moberly MO, and my youngest is currently deciding what she would like to do as she will be a senior in high school next year.  She is leaning towards either a sports medicine doctor or a physical therapist.  She is extremely active in athletics and loves cross country and track.

 

CPS Partners with Verge Health to Improve Patient Safety

Verge Manages Technology while CPS Provides Consultancy Services

On the heels of Patient Safety Awareness Week, Verge Health, a leader in healthcare risk management, has partnered with the Center for Patient Safety (CPS), a non-profit organization envisioning a healthcare environment safe for all patients and healthcare providers, in all processes all the time.

“The shift to value-based care, and the vast expansion of data sharing among and between health systems, presents both risk and opportunity,” says Mark Crockett, chief executive officer of Verge Health. “We are delighted to solidify our working relationship with CPS to help improve safety by leveraging technology to help protect patients.”

Under terms of the agreement, the two companies will partner to promote products, services, and events to their respective client bases promoting the shared vision of protecting patients and margins. The agreement formalizes a long-time relationship where Verge powers the CPS PSO, and CPS offers PSO services, consultation and education around patient safety culture.

“From conducting patient safety assessments to helping hospitals and other health care organizations improve patient safety, we generate a significant amount of data that must be kept secure while being accessible,” says Alex Christgen, Executive Director for the Center for Patient Safety. “We’ve been working with [Verge] for several years to support our Patient Safety Organization, and believe our patient safety vision fits well with the IT platforms that Verge provides.”

About Verge Health
Founded in 2001, Verge Health is a risk management software company. Verge Health’s software solutions enable healthcare organizations to proactively protect and defend patients, caregivers, and frontline staff, against errors, adverse events, and policy violations. With over 900 facilities and 500,000 active users, the company’s Converge Platform provides hospital organizations with a cross-functional, proactive surveillance tool enabling optimal quality and safety results. For more information, please visit https://www.vergehealth.com/

About Center for Patient Safety
The Center for Patient Safety, is a private, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to fostering change throughout the nation’s health care delivery systems and across the continuum of care. It provides patient safety services to more than 1000 health care facilities across the nation since its inception 12 years ago, which was in response to recommendations from the Missouri Governor’s Commission for Patient Safety. For more information, go to
https://www.centerforpatientsafety.org

The Joint Commission released Sentinel Event Alert #57

The Joint Commission released Sentinel Event Alert #57 this week:  The Essential Role of Leadership in Establishing a Patient Safety Culture.

The Center for Patient Safety supports the 11 patient safety tenets and provides services and supports to help health care providers across the continuum improve patient safety.  For additional information contact us.

Diagnostic Errors are a Problem!

Diagnostic errors are problematic!  About a decade ago hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) were in the same position, seeming like an impossible health care issue.  But hospitals across the nation have made great progress in reducing HAIs, although there definitely is room for more improvement.  Diagnostic errors are our next challenge.  Read more from Dr. Peter Pronovost, Director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins and Senior VP for Patient Safety and Quality.

LEARN MORE! Center for Patient Safety and Verge Health is hosting a FREE WEBINAR tomorrow!

Physician Engagement: Reducing Diagnostic Errors to Improve Patient Safety
March 15, 2017 1:00pm -2:00pm CDT

Diagnostic errors impact our patients, our providers, and, of course, our finances. We have a responsibility to address the concern. Join this webinar to learn the impact of diagnostic errors and what steps can be taken to help reduce the occurrence of these costly events.

SPEAKER: Michael Handler, MD, is the Center for Patient Safety’s Medical Director. Dr. Handler will address the 2015 IOM Update’s recommendations and the existing physician engagement opportunities that can benefit patient safety at your organization.

It’s Patient Safety Awareness Week – #PSAW2017

The Center for Patient Safety encourages providers to use the week as a great way to remind the staff and community of their commitment to safety.
It should be a time of celebration of successes, but also a time of reflection.

In recognition of the week, and the efforts that continue every day throughout the year, the Center for Patient Safety is offering a 20% discount on the already affordable safety culture survey services. Download a proposal with sample feedback reports and an online sample survey link. We encourage the use of the survey as a diagnostic tool to assess your culture. Get started today and take advantage of the offering!

Several available toolkits can support your improvement efforts. It’s easy to start with tools that have already been developed and proven successful:  10 Patient Safety Tips for Hospitals

We also want to remind you that consumer involvement is important to ensure a successful patient safety program. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides several flyers and videos that can complement your events and programs during Patient Safety Awareness Week:

Patient Safety Awareness Week Approaches, March 12-18th

The Center for Patient Safety (CPS) encourages all healthcare organizations to use Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 12-18th, as a way to remind staff and community of your commitment to safety. It should be a time of celebration of successes, but also a time of reflection.

Free Toolkit for Patient Safety Awareness Week 2017

CPS reminds you to plan in advance for Patient Safety Awareness Week. Plans don’t have to be time consuming or extravagant, but a little planning can go a long way. We recommend hosting an event or several events to recognize patient safety efforts at your organization.

For example:

  • Recognize staff and committees that work every day to provide safe care
  • Launch a patient safety culture assessment during the week (mention this blog and receive 10% off your survey services through CPS!)
  • Have leadership, patient safety/risk/quality department and/or safety committees host events in the cafeteria with snacks or dessert or something special to celebrate safety at their organization
  • Ask departments to develop poster presentations of their successful safety efforts. Display in hallways.
  • Hang a safety awareness week poster in the foyer of the organization with signatures from all staff
  • Hold safety-focused training during Patient Safety Awareness Week
  • Publish safety-focused articles for the organization’s internal newsletter, professional newsletters, local newspapers, local consumer groups
  • Contact a local radio station to host a spokesperson to share patient safety tips and highlights
  • Launch a new safety awareness effort – a “good catch” program, implement a new “CUSP Team”, announce an upcoming “Safety Culture Survey”, etc.

Several available toolkits can support improvement efforts. It’s easy to start with tools that have already been developed and proven successful:  10 Patient Safety Tips for Hospitals

We also suggest you consider consumer involvement to ensure a successful week. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides several flyers and videos that can complement events and programs during Patient Safety Awareness Week:

Visit www.unitedforpatientsafety.org for more information and resources about #PSAW2017.

BLOG:

PSO Case Law: Ungurian v. Beyzman, et al., 2020 PA Super 105:

A recent Pennsylvania case shows how courts narrowly interpret the PSQIA, ignoring the D & A pathway and the clear language of the Final Rule. (Ungurian v. Beyzman, et al., 2020 PA Super 105). The cour

Joint Commission New Sentinel Event Alert 61: Managing the Risks of Direct Oral Anticoagulants:

The Center for Patient Safety wants to share this important harm-prevention advice from The Joint Commission and its Sentinel Event Alert: Managing the Risks of Direct Oral Anticoagulants. The Joint Commis

CPS Safety Watch/Alert – Culture Can Improve the Control of Multi-Drug Resistant Organisms:

Issue: A number of events reported co CPS’ Patient Safety Organization (PSO) demonstrate poor handoff communication about the patients’ infectious disease status Examples include: Patient with

Read More

RESOURCES:

The Center for Patient Safety believes that collaboration and sharing are the best ways to drive improvement. We strive to provide the right solutions and resources to improve healthcare safety and quality.