Free tool helps hospitals recover after safety failures


LifeWings, a specialist in patient safety improvement programs, has released a new one-page, nine-step tool to help healthcare teams recover after a safety tool failure. The tool aims to help teams mitigate damage and prevent future failures.

The tool was developed in recognition of the fact that, because safety tools are administered by humans, they will sometimes fail. This can cost healthcare bodies and patients billions of dollars.

In fiscal year 2016, some 758 hospitals —a 5 percent increase on 2015—will receive reduced reimbursements from Medicare totaling $364 million because of the Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reductions Program— a plan designed to reduce patient injuries, infections and complications that can be avoided with effective protocols.

To remain viable, hospitals must improve their reliability and efficacy. LifeWings Partners’ failure recovery tool is designed to help healthcare leaders improve patient safety by ensuring that their teams limit the damage from safety protocol failure and reduce the risk of future failures.

Patient safety protocols include checklists and tools for procedures that, if done in a standard way, result in success the vast majority of the time, the developer claims. Because protocols can be designed poorly, with limited input from the healthcare teams that will actually use them, and deployed with suboptimal training, the adoption and compliance rate can be low—resulting in failures and patient harm.

Ideally protocols are designed by the primary stakeholders under the direction of an experienced professional who knows how to design the protocol for optimal deployment—with effective training and with a low cognitive load on the staff (to account for staff fatigue and distractions).

LifeWings CEO Steve Harden said he has seen the successful deployment of safety protocols at more than 170 hospitals.

“Planning, engagement, staff buy-in, and leadership support are the keys to protocols that protect patients consistently. But even the most effective protocols, because they are administered by humans—and humans make mistakes—will occasionally fail,” he said.

“When they do, the difference between a safe hospital and an unsafe hospital is a plan for failure recovery. If leaders use the tool we’ve developed, they will reduce additional costs and damage and salvage critical staff morale.”

LifeWings, Steve Harden, US