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Be A Patient Safety Hero: Anytime, Anywhere—Always

Image of The Defense Health Agency will be highlighting the importance of patient safety with the celebration of Patient Safety Awareness Week,, March 10-16, with the theme of “Be A Patient Safety Hero: Anytime, Anywhere – Always.” (Credit: Kim Farcot, MHS Communications ). The Defense Health Agency will be highlighting the importance of patient safety with the celebration of Patient Safety Awareness Week,, March 10-16, with the theme of “Be A Patient Safety Hero: Anytime, Anywhere – Always.” (Credit: Kim Farcot, MHS Communications )

When it comes to health care delivery in the Military Health System, patient safety is a core focus.

The Defense Health Agency will be highlighting the importance of patient safety with Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 10-16, with the theme “Be A Patient Safety Hero: Anytime, Anywhere—Always.”

“It's important to take time to focus on patient safety and resilience in our daily practices,” said Heidi King, chief of the Patient Safety Program within the DHA. “We value our patient safety professionals who support health care delivery in all military hospitals and clinics. They ensure patients have a clean environment, properly trained staff, supporting medical equipment, and a process to resolve issues.”

According to King, patient safety means giving every patient the right treatment at the right time for the right reason. All health care professionals maintain the highest level of care to:

  • Identify patients correctly
  • Prevent infection
  • Improve staff communication
  • Identify patient safety risks
  • Mitigate errors
  • Prevent harm
  • Use medicines safely
  • Use alarms wisely

How does Patient Safety Awareness Week Help?

Military hospitals and clinics across the MHS will host a variety of events to participate in the campaign.

“Patient Safety Awareness Week is an opportunity to reassess performance and identify improvements needed during this international education and awareness-building campaign,” said King.

For the DHA, it is a week of reinvigorated focus to ensure there are systems in place to recognize its patient safety heroes and continuously improve the way care is delivered. For patients, it is an opportunity to learn about DHA’s actions and strategies for patient safety.

Each military hospital and clinic plans their own events and engage beneficiaries. DHA offers ideas, such as creating videos with patient safety champions, hosting games and webinars, and presenting certificates of appreciation during ceremonies.

Patient Awareness is Vital to Patient Safety

Patients are encouraged to help promote safety by reporting concerns they experience or see with their health care provider or facility leaders, so they can be resolved.

“Since DHA can analyze data across the Military Health System, they can reliably spot trends, recommend corrective actions, and share communications on issues that require immediate intervention,” said Stephanie Pastewait, deputy chief for the center for data integration within the DHA patient safety office.

Programs Highlight DHAs Commitment to Patient Safety

The DHA offers many resources that may be helpful to patient safety professionals.

The Patient Safety Professional Course is comprised of core content and a comprehensive systematic analysis agenda. The course is conducted three times annually.

“This course is continually updated and is a unique, virtual, adaptive learning experience greatly expanded our ability to reach those who connect daily with our beneficiaries,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Maxine McIntosh, the Patient Safety Professional Course lead.

“Standardization of safe care practices plays a key role in learning organizations,” said King. She noted that MHS partners with internal and external stakeholders, as well as beneficiaries to share lessons learned, leading practices, and other improvement opportunities for patient safety.

Additional patient programs and resources include:

  • DOD Patient Safety Culture Survey: The most recent survey collected insights from more than 600 military hospitals and clinics to evaluate patient safety. “The results are used to help drive MHS-wide improvement initiatives, as well as provide information to target more local efforts,” said Cherylann Robinson, lead of the Patient Safety Culture Survey team.
  • Joint Patient Safety Reporting: Self-reporting is one of the key components in the MHS’s effort to improve care. Patients can report events at all levels of severity and types of medical and dental care.
  • Patient Safety Champion Recognition Program: The Patient Safety Champion Certificate of Recognition is a peer-to-peer recognition initiative led by the DOD Patient Safety Program.
  • Ready Reliable Care High Reliability Organization Awards Program: The awards program recognizes initiatives and innovations in the MHS that reflect new knowledge and insights.
  • Patient Safety Professional Course: This interactive series of classes is designed for new patient safety professionals, who have been in their role less than one year.
  • e-Learning Courses: Self-paced online tutorials are available by the Joint Patient Safety Reporting Community and DOD patient safety professionals.
  • DOD Patient Safety Program Webinars: The webinars series is hosted by the DOD Patient Safety Program.  
  • Patient Safety Learning Center: The center facilitates the dissemination of knowledge and resources to increase awareness and promote communication across and among the patient safety community.
  • Patient Safety & Quality Academic Collaborative: The patient safety and quality academic collaborative is based at Uniformed Services University made up of a multidisciplinary team aimed at improving clinical practice and health policy within the MHS.
  • TeamSTEPPS: An evidence-based framework used to optimize team performance. Created as a joint venture between the DOD and our federal partners at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the program has been critical in minimizing preventable harm to our beneficiaries,” said Joe Paulino, Click to closeTeamSTEPPSTeam Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) is an evidence-based teamwork system designed to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare. TeamSTEPPS consists of a collection of instructions, materials and tools to help drive a successful teamwork initiative from the initial planning to implementation through to sustainment. The system is designed to improve patient safety using a three-phase approach: Phase I Assessment: Facility determines organizational readiness; Phase II Planning, Training & Implementation: Facility “decides what to do” and “makes it happen;” and Phase III Sustainment: Facility spreads the improvements in teamwork performance, clinical processes and outcomes resulting from the TeamSTEPPS initiative.TeamSTEPPS lead.

Resources available on InsideDHA (CAC users only, available via Inside DHA), include:

  • Comprehensive Systematic Analysis: Provides insight into patient safety harm events using a systems approach to prevent or reduce future harm. The PSP has developed tools and templates to standardize investigations.
  • Patient Safety Learning Center: The center is one of many DHA Patient Safety Program initiatives to engage and promote awareness to the MHS team.

King noted that although the DHA celebrates Patient Safety Awareness Week in March, ensuring safe, reliable care for every patient is a priority anytime, anywhere—always.

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Last Updated: April 26, 2024
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