In an effort to promote patient safety, Stony Brook University Hospital CEO Steven Strongwater, M.D., announced the establishment of a Patient Safety and Quality Council (PSQC) during National Patient Safety Awareness Week.

The purpose of the PSQC is to promote dialogue between Stony Brook University Hospital and the nation’s top patient safety experts and patient safety advocacy organizations in order to find additional ways to improve the care provided at SBUH.

With these ‘open discussion’ council meetings of experts drawn from across the country, Strongwater hoped to gain ‘fresh, outside perspectives’ of current SBUH patient safety initiatives and programs, as well as learn about similar programs other medical institutions have in place. This exchange of ideas concerning patient safety and quality of care issues will help SBUH make readjustments to existing programs and processes in order to increase efficiency and leave patients more satisfied.

The council’s first meeting took place on Mar. 20 and focused on sharing ideas. Patient safety and quality of care are evaluated according to a ‘structure, process, outcome scheme or how our systems are put together,’ explained Strongwater. ‘If the structure and process of our medical care is good, then a good [medical] outcome should follow.’

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At the first PSQC meeting, an emphasis on the structure and process of medical care resulted in the identification of potential efficiency analysis improvements. According to Strongwater, the PSQC discovered that simply determining and correcting the variables that lead to a given poor outcome is not enough. A system for tracing the changes made to medical procedures to ensure consistent success is necessary.

In a high-pressure environment, such as a hospital, creating safeguards against unintentional medical errors is important. The first PSQC meeting also reaffirmed the need for strong motivation and leadership to ensure that any change is effectively implemented.

Members of the council included representatives from nursing, pharmacy, information systems and administrative fields. A patient representative, reverend and representatives from hospitals and medical institutions similar to SBUH were also present. Each of these representatives shared a unique perspective of patient safety concerns.

For example, while an administrative representative may have an organizational and efficiency-rooted perspective, a patient advocate may be able to provide insight into maintaining sensitivity of care and preventing medical processes from becoming too rigid and inhuman.

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The council will provide medical professionals with insight into the difficulties faced by practitioners and into the necessity for convenience and efficiency in patient-centered care. According to Strongwater, any discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of a given system of care, which include tools used, methodology implemented and convenience of location, helps elucidate areas of potential improvement.

In its consistent commitment to patient safety awareness and concern, the PSQC is yet another example of SBUH’s efforts as a mentor hospital. ‘This is part of a 500-year plan for SBUH,’ Strongwater concluded, ‘We will always be working towards providing excellent care for our patients.’

Previous efforts of SBUH to promote patient safety and quality of care include its participation in the Institue for Healthcare Improvement’s ‘Preventing 5 million lives from medical harm’ campaign, as well as the recent establishment of a SBUH ‘promise’ issued to all incoming patients to help outline the smaller initiatives taken up by the medical staff.

‘We have our tentacles in many different places,’ explained Strongwater with reference to the many quality goals and programs in which SBUH participates. ‘With the PSQC, we hope to share discussion between SBUH and national patient safety experts to re-energize our system with new ideas that can ultimately help improve care,’ said Strongwater.

The Patient Safety and Quality Council will continue to meet semiannually or annually, as needed, to further discuss patient safety and quality of care programs. The recommendations of council members will be reviewed and slowly introduced at SBUH.

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