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Defense Health Agency Fosters Culture of Safety, Accountability

Image of A quality assurance specialist organizes sterilized instruments to prepare for packaging at the Sterile Processing Department, William Beaumont Army Medical Center in Texas. (Photo: Marcy Sanchez). A quality assurance specialist organizes sterilized instruments to prepare for packaging at the Sterile Processing Department, William Beaumont Army Medical Center in Texas. (Photo: Marcy Sanchez)

The Defense Health Agency is enhancing the culture of safety, accountability, and transparency at military hospitals and clinics around the world.

In January, the DHA published a Ready Reliable Care Safety Communication Bundle. The bundle is a set of standardized, evidence-based safety practices to help Military Health System staff and providers improve the culture of safety.

"Burnout and workplace errors are more common when medical units report less teamwork," says Mr. Tyler Rodriguez, the DHA project manager who coordinated the Patient Safety Program's development of the Bundle. "The bundle gives leaders tools to reduce workplace stress through effective communication, teamwork, and leadership engagement."

A standardized approach to building teams and achieving patient safety ensures a consistent experience across the entire health system.

The DHA hopes the bundle will empower leaders to foster an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect that empowers everyone to speak up when they identify safety concerns.

"Leaders in a medical workplace need to lead by example to build a culture of safety," Rodriguez said. "These practices apply to everyone in all clinical and non-clinical areas."

One example of enhancing a culture of safety comes from the obstetrics and gynecology department at Madigan Army Medical Center, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. The department developed a program called TEAM UP. This encourages patients to become active members of their health care team. The acronym stands for:

  • T: Team Together
  • E: Educate Yourself
  • A: Ask Questions
  • M: Manage Your Medications
  • U: Understand Changes in the Game Plan
  • P: Provide Your Perspective

"Strong health care teams are key to driving the excellence DHA seeks," said Ms. Heidi King, chief, DHA Patient Safety Program. "Patients should consider themselves part of their health care team. The bundle gives our providers and staff resources to help patients become active participants in their medical care."

MHS staff can access the Ready Reliable Care Safety Communication Bundle.

You can learn more about DHA patient safety efforts at our Patient Safety Awareness Week page.

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