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YNHH strengthens foundation for safety culture

Results from the biennial Yale New Haven Health System Safety Culture Survey conducted earlier this year show that patient safety and quality initiatives are helping to move Yale New Haven Hospital and the rest of the health system in a positive direction.

YNHH was at or above national benchmarks in eight of the 12 categories surveyed: teamwork within units; supervisor/manager expectations and actions promoting patient safety; organizational learning and continuous improvement; feedback and communication about error; frequency of events reported; communication openness; non-punitive response to error; and staffing. YNHH’s top three opportunities for improvement are overall perceptions of safety, teamwork across units; and hospital handoffs and transitions.

“Employee comments on the survey offered greater insight on a variety of issues,” said Stephen Jones, MD, YNHHS medical director, Safety. “For example, survey participants noted the potential for safety issues at shift change, when handoffs may be rushed or staff take on more patients with higher acuity.”

Dr. Jones explained that three key elements are integral to a health system’s safety culture: an open reporting system for errors, fair and just accountability, and shared learning, in which errors have led to positive changes that have been evaluated for effectiveness. YNHHS’ safety event rate is down 62 percent to 84 percent due to patient safety initiatives, many of which grew out of increased event reporting by staff, he said.

“Our scores for the health system validated our high reliability work in the categories of non-punitive response to error, communication openness, frequency of events reported and feedback and communication about error,” he said.

Bridgeport, Greenwich and Yale New Haven hospitals have completed the safety survey. Employees at Lawrence + Memorial and Westerly hospitals, along with Northeast Medical Group and Grimes Center, were scheduled to complete the survey this month.