New campaign encourages health sector to be Open for better care

17 May 2013

A national patient safety campaign focusing on reducing harm in the areas of falls, surgery, healthcare associated infections and medication is being launched in Auckland today.

The campaign is coordinated nationally by the Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission), and implemented regionally by district health boards (DHBs) and other health providers. It will run until mid-2015.

Called Open for better care, the campaign encourages health care workers to be ‘open’ to achieving sustainable excellence in health care, by being open to acknowledging mistakes and learning from them, open to working closely with patients and consumers, and open to change, improvement and innovation.

Commission Chair Prof Alan Merry says, “In our health and disability system, we have highly skilled, caring and committed doctors, nurses and other health professionals who usually succeed in delivering excellent care. Unfortunately, things occasionally go wrong, and we cannot afford either the human or the financial costs of avoidable harm.

“Doctors, nurses, managers and other health sector workers need to be open to continually striving to do things better,” he says.

“We know that adopting certain behaviours or processes established in other industries will lead to reduced patient harm.

“For example, we know the World Health Organization’s Surgical Safety Checklist improves patient outcomes. The Checklist is a simple tool for avoiding mistakes. It also promotes better communication and planning for things that might go wrong. Checklists are accepted as fundamental for safety in aviation, and it is essential that effective interventions like this are used properly and consistently across the health and disability sector.

“We can’t afford the cost to patients or the financial cost of wasting highly skilled and expensive surgical or medical care because someone did not wash their hands on a ward round, or because a wet floor resulted in a fall and a broken hip, or because an essential drug was not given correctly, at the right time.”

At today’s launch in Auckland each of the four DHB regions – Northern, Midlands, Central and South Island – will showcase their quality and safety initiatives. The Northern region’s First, Do No Harm patient safety campaign, is co-hosting the national launch.

Best practice will be shared through the campaign website, in addition to events, learning sessions, presentations from clinical experts, videos and other resources. DHB regions will implement the interventions that support and improve their existing quality and safety programmes.

Prof Merry says the campaign’s impact will be measured by quality and safety markers. These are made up of process and outcome measures, and the focus will be on demonstrating improvement in both.

“The process measures will show whether the required changes in practice have been made at a local level – for example, giving older patients a falls risk assessment and developing a care plan for them, or demonstrating that people are washing their hands at all of the World Health Organization’s ‘Five Moments for Hand Hygiene’.

“The outcome measures focus on harm and cost to be avoided and will provide information about progress against the core campaign goals of reduced harm and better value from the available resources.”

Prof Merry says the campaign is an opportunity and a call to action for everyone working in health care to ensure all patients receive the care they really need and value, and to get it right first time.

Last updated 17/05/2013