By Tara Kosak, MEd, RT(T)(CT) and Meghan Kearney, MS, Quality and Safety Program Managers
March 12-18 marks National Patient Safety Awareness Week (PSAW), an opportunity for health care organizations to celebrate the important work being done every day to improve patient and staff safety and a platform to promote awareness.
The Department of Radiation Oncology at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center uses PSAW as a way to reinforce our strong safety culture within the department and to educate staff about current efforts and initiatives related to patient safety. Last year, Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center celebrated the week with a variety of activities including:
- A daily enewsletter, featuring frontline staff messages from various members of the radiation oncology team about “what safety means to me.” The messages were accompanied by safety selfies of staff holding ASTRO's #PSAW22 sign.
Example of a staff message [edited for length]:
- “As we celebrate National Patient Safety Awareness Week, I want to applaud our department for creating a strong safety culture… We rely on each other to provide every patient the highest level of care and safety. I encourage each one of us to celebrate the work we have done to ensure we deliver safe and high-quality care to all our patients and identify ways to improve patient safety.”
- “As medical dosimetrists, safety is always our utmost priority, for our colleagues and especially for our patients... As a group, we often collaborate to improve our efficiency and ensure that every patient receives safe, compassionate care. We are fortunate to work in a department that promotes a culture of open discourse and actively tries to improve upon that culture. These acts of quality care should be celebrated as a reflection of the diligence and conscientious staff this department has accumulated, as well as a reflection of the organization as a whole.”
- Safety-focused quizzes and surveys were embedded within the daily newsletter and staff who completed surveys were entered into a daily gift card raffle.
Examples of surveys:
- Safety reporting survey to better understand barriers to reporting events
- Submit a safety initiative
- Feedback on the departmental quarterly safety newsletter
- Just for fun – this or that
- Patient safety rounds quiz
- A patient safety rounds forum was held on Equity Informed High Reliability.
- Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center has been deeply invested in learning about high reliability organizations over the last several years. Staff within quality improvement and clinical operations leadership teams completed online and interactive education through an online learning platform, with the support of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Quality & Safety.
- A guest speaker presented at the department’s quarterly patient safety rounds to discuss BWH’s approach to high reliability using an equity informed approach.
- All staff received cupcakes in a jar adorned with the department's safety logo.
- Staff were encouraged to use ASTRO's PSAW virtual meeting background for all virtual meetings and share selfies holding the #PSAW sign.
- The department recognized the year’s Great Catch award recipients.
- To endorse the culture of safety and continuous learning within the department, a Great Catch program was put into place nearly seven years ago to acknowledge individuals and teams that go above and beyond to prevent harm, report an issue that may lead to significant process improvement or identify an issue that is not well understood.
- The Great Catch nominees are voted on by the quality improvement committee on a quarterly basis and winners are awarded with a certificate, showcased in a quarterly safety newsletter and acknowledged at the standing Patient Safety & Process Improvement Rounds.
While PSAW is a week-long opportunity for the department to showcase its pledge to safety, the journey for promoting safety is continuous and evolving. The department is actively planning for PSAW 2023, building on all of the great ideas from past celebrations. This year, the plan is to continue to share messages in a daily enewsletter from frontline staff on how safety impacts their daily work. New this year, we will encourage staff to wear purple in support of safety, host a guest speaker presentation on moral injury and facilitate a design contest. The winning design will become a pin and the official Great Catch award token for past and future Great Catch Award recipients.
Our department is strongly committed to safety reporting and understands that reports are an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than the reflection of unsafe practice. The department currently uses a commercial hospital-wide software platform for safety report submission internally. In addition, we are proud to have officially joined as members of the RO-ILS: Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System® initiative. For years, the department has drawn from the educational resources and aggregate reporting provided by RO-ILS, and we are excited to officially be contributors to the larger radiation oncology community.
What are your plans for 2023 PSAW? Not sure? Now is the time to start planning! ASTRO has provided new fliers for your individual and group safety selfies and a virtual background for #PSAW23. Additionally, ASTRO is collecting stories about patient safety — share your passion with us and the community. We would love to hear how RO-ILS, APEx and your own initiatives have fueled positive change and quality improvement. For more information and to get involved, visit ASTRO’s PSAW webpage.
Share ideas in the comments section and join the conversation about patient safety.