Queen's University

School of Nursing research influences guidelines for improved patient safety

Students take a tour through the 'Room of Horrors', which is designed to test their skills at spotting common patient safety errors. 

The Queen's Joanna Briggs Collaboration for Patient Safety (QJBC-PS ) is hoping to make health care safer by reviewing data from past incidents and other sources in the health care field – including patients – to establish guidelines for government and health officials.

One of the key tools for developing guidelines is a systematic review of cases where something has gone wrong in the course of care and patients are injured or become sicker.

“Getting input from patients and families about adverse events is something that hasn’t been done well in the past. The work we do with them will be vital to increasing patient safety across Canada,” says QJBC-PS patient safety officer Janice McVeety.

It’s often an operational or systems problem that is the root cause when something goes wrong and a lot can be learned from patient reports.

“It could be a staffing problem on the weekend where people are pulled in from another unit and the workers are not familiar with the floor layout and patients. Many things can contribute to an adverse event. It’s bigger than the person who reports it,” says Ms McVeety.

To reduce the number of accidents and mistakes, health care professionals need to be more transparent about indentifying how, where and why these incidents are happening and establish guidelines or allocate resources to correct the problem. Over the past decade, the reporting of adverse events has been encouraged by health care organizations. This is a trend QJBC-PS researchers would like to encourage.

“You have to create a non-blaming environment so people are comfortable disclosing an error. Proactive organizations strive to create a culture of patient safety that includes non-punitive policies regarding the management of adverse events and risk. Health care workers want the best outcome for their patients as well,” Ms McVeety says.

QJBC-PS received $1 million last year from the Canadian Institute of Health Research to develop a pan-Canadian academic policy partnership to aid government and health officials to create safer health care environments.

In honour of Canadian Patient Safety Week (which runs next week), the Queen’s School of Nursing is hosting a simulated "Room of Horrors" to test students’ skills at spotting common safety errors on November 3 and November 4 at Cataraqui Building on Barrie Street.

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Last updated at 4:16 pm EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
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