Advancing Patient Safety in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

by Deborah Chase; Douglas McCarthy

Mar 15, 2011
As part of a systemwide transformation, the VA formed its National Center for Patient Safety to foster an organizational culture of safety within its nationwide network of hospitals and outpatient clinics. A recent medical team training program designed to improve communication among operating room staff was associated with a reduction in surgical mortality and improvements in quality of care, on-time surgery starts, and staff morale. The program is now being expanded to other clinical units, along with a patient engagement program that prevents errors by facilitating communication relating to patients' daily care plans. A recognition program stimulated facilities to conduct timelier and higher-quality root-cause analyses of reported safety events to identify stronger actions for preventing their recurrence. Other initiatives have reduced rates of health care -- associated infections, patient mortality, and post-operative complications. Success factors include leadership accountability for performance and organizational support for testing, expanding, and adopting improvements.
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