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Humorous Calendar Illustrates Safety Best Practices

Picture this: your hospital CEO good-naturedly lying in bed with enough restraints piled on to prevent an elephant from falling out. How about a photo of a skeleton propped up in a hospital bed surrounded by nurses and dieticians trying to determine if malnutrition is setting in. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Bradenton, Fla.’s Blake Medical Center administration thinks they’ve found a surefire way to keep the hospital staff laughing in the months ahead while putting into practice The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals.

“We thought by producing our own in-house calendar complete with comical photos of our own employees demonstrating a specific goal every month, it would help us focus on clinical risk areas throughout the year while making it fun for everyone,” says Brenda Wehrle, BS, CPHRM, quality and risk management vice president.

“This calendar will serve us well and be a constant reminder for the whole hospital to keep safety issues on the forefront of clinical practice.”

According to CNO Connie Boudreaux, RN, MS, CCRN, patient safety has become an integral part of their culture. “When the patient safety goals are revised each year, we change along with them and imbed the latest additions in our organization,” she says. “We believe The Joint Commission is impressed with our efforts and initiatives. We were recently surveyed to evaluate our compliance with safety goals and the report came back that we had no recommendations for improvement in our patient safety program. In fact, some of our initiatives are viewed as best practices.”

The calendar project involved appointing teams throughout the hospital for each patient safety goal. Over several months, team leaders developed a concept that would depict the assigned goal. They brainstormed, in some cases, acquired costumes, and arranged for the photo shoot to capture the idea for the calendar. “Their creativity was incredible,” says Boudreaux. “The pictures had us all laughing and were perfect to accomplish the task of safety awareness with a twist of humor.”

Director for the progressive care unit and surgical stepdown unit Mary Ellen Deeves, RN, BSN, MS, CNAA, sits on the hospital safety council. She says her team was responsible for highlighting two goals, including the read-back of verbal and telephone orders and read-back and notification of critical values to the physician.

“[In the photo], we had a group of staff in the lab including a respiratory therapist, a lab tech, and an RN holding cell phones. With a panicked expression, one pointed to the clock on the wall indicating a critical time element in reporting lab values,” says Deeves. “I think we got the point across and had fun doing it. The calendar concept is a fantastic idea and will help us focus on specific safety goals each month.”

Left to right, Rebecca Cosgrove, RD, CDE; Florey Miller, RD, CDE; and Pat Miller-Garner, RD, CDE, tend to an undernourished “patient.”

Blake Medical Center has a history of making compliance with The Joint Commission’s Patient Safety Goals fun. For example, last year it held a Safety Jeopardy game show that involved the entire hospital.

Physicians also are on board to promote patient safety using innovative humor. The hospital’s vice chief of staff sits on the safety council. She reports back to the medical staff to keep them up to speed with the hospital’s safety initiatives and compliance as well as contributes a few creative ideas of her own.

“Keeping a focus on the importance of handwashing is a challenge for busy healthcare providers,” says Boudreaux. “In the past year, a physician came up with the slogan for the handwashing campaign called the Two Tap Campaign. When we see physicians or co-workers forget to wash their hands, we can tap on the counter or arm to remind them that they need to wash. For the calendar, we are featuring that particular physician champion in a photo. She is wearing boxing gloves and standing by the sink and a handwashing dispenser.”

Med/surg private unit staff nurse Jeannine Kalil, RN, is a member of the hospital’s skin committee, a subcommittee of the patient safety council. “In setting up one of our photos for the calendar, we put a nurse in a bed with an air mattress and covered her in bandages. We elevated her arms and her heels and strapped on a pair of huge air booties,” says Kalil. “In a take on the book Where’s Waldo, we included many safety goal issues in one photo so people would have to hunt for all the safety goals we included, such as a nurse checking the patient’s armband, the raised bedrails, and the presence of a red bag for biohazardous materials and soiled dressings.”

Handoff communication is on The Joint Commission’s Patient Safety Goal list. “Any time a patient transfers to another caregiver, such as during a lunch break, a shift change, or transport of a patient for an x-ray or CT scan, that person needs to be advised of the patient’s primary concerns, such as high blood pressure, blood sugar levels, or if the patient is NPO [nothing by mouth],” says Kalil. “We did a gag handoff on this for the calendar photo by re-enacting a relay race in which the runners pass the baton. In this case, it was a nurse-to-nurse handoff of patient information down the hospital corridor. We take these safety issues seriously, but we also like to have fun with them.”

Deeves says the project has included a good cross section of staff from all departments and different levels of the organization. “Half the fun is seeing people you know in the photos,” she says. “One has the director of security standing with a patient who is at risk for elopement. The patient is tethered to an IV pole, johnny swinging, and is standing at the elevator getting ready to walk off the unit.”

Because the focus is not only on the National Patient Safety Goals but many other relevant issues as well, the calendar will be expanded to an 18-month calendar.

Boudreaux says the hospital has developed its own methods, such as ways to
protect patients from infection and ways to use restraints. “Here in Florida, patient safety also includes an evacuation plan in the event of a hurricane.”

Since the Institute of Medicine’s call to improve patient safety in its 2000 report “To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” many hospitals have developed and adopted safe practices at the point of care. Blake Medical Center has elected to inject an element of humor into the process. “Making patient safety fun and educational has been a large part of our success story,” says Wehrle. “We are continuously improving and are proud to say that safety is not considered just another job to incorporate but has become an integral part of our culture and our organization.”

By | 2020-04-15T15:41:53-04:00 January 14th, 2008|Categories: Nursing specialties, Specialty|0 Comments

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