It’s no secret that medical errors are a growing concern in hospitals across the country. According to a recent study, they are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. While the ultimate goal is to reduce medication errors through the use of technology and improved provider workflows, hospitals would also benefit by examining their own track record and examining past mistakes.
In an effort to improve safety by identifying and learning from these errors, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has launched the “Safety Matters” blog. The blog highlights mistakes made at the hospital, including medication errors, delayed diagnoses, and other problems that harmed, or could have harmed, a patient. It also outlines steps the hospital is taking to reduce these errors in the future.
According to the welcome note from Betsy Nabel, MD, the President of Brigham and Women’s Health Care, and Allen Kachalia, MD, JD, Chief Quality Officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Our goal is simple. By telling these stories, we hope to show everyone that, while improving care is not easy, we are absolutely committed to transparency, to learning from our mistakes, and to continuous improvement.”
An article in STAT News discussing the blog states that every post is set up in a similar way: describing the error, how it came to light, and the steps taken to prevent it from happening again. Beyond highlighting these errors, the blog offers a forum for staff to openly discuss the mistakes and learn from each other in a safe and supportive environment. If possible, these comments are incorporated into the posts, along with comments from the patient who may have been harmed by an error. According to STAT, “the patient story is pivotal because it lets care providers understand how mistakes affect the lives of patients and their family members.”
Initially launched in 2011 as an internal network, Safety Matters went public in 2016. According to organizers, this not only increases accessibility for staff so they can access the blog from home or a mobile device, but also demonstrates to external audiences that the hospital is committed to “transparency and continuous improvement.”
This public sharing of knowledge highlights the latest in a public push for providers and researchers to share their experiences, so others aren’t duplicating mistakes and can benefit by their discoveries.
The public response has been incredibly positive, prompting other hospitals to reach out and see how they may launch similar efforts. As issues like prescription shopping, drug diversion and medical errors grow in severity, all opportunities to share information and learn from other providers should be applauded. Efforts like the Safety Matters are a testament to prioritizing patient safety over hospital reputation, which is paramount in delivering the best patient care possible.