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About Sickkids
About SickKids

June 26, 2016

Caring Safely – our journey to eliminating preventable harm

Caring Safely

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) recently celebrated the one year anniversary of Caring Safely, an ambitious patient and staff safety initiative that will have significant impact in making care better and safer across the hospital and also make the hospital an even safer place to work.

SickKids is a leading children’s hospital both within Canada and internationally with a strong track record in patient safety, but there is always more we can do to improve. Despite our best efforts, intentions, and the excellent error prevention strategies we have implemented, preventable harm still occurs. SickKids led a national study confirming the issue of preventable harm is just as much a problem in paediatrics as had been shown elsewhere. Across Canada, 3 to 4 per cent of children admitted to the hospital suffer significant preventable harm. This tells us we have to do more than ever before, so we are responding with a relentless focus on reducing preventable harm which is captured as a key priority in our 2015-2020 strategic plan Building Connections, Accelerating Impact.

We have set ambitious targets for the reduction of hospital acquired conditions and serious safety events while simultaneously working to enhance safety culture and improve staff safety. We want to do more for patient safety, and we want to do it faster. With renewed commitment comes a renewed strategy. We are using an evidence-based approach to improving safety, and focusing more on changing culture within the hospital.

One of the ways we are approaching this differently is by training all staff, including non-clinical, in safety behaviours and error prevention strategies, with over 1,400 staff trained to date. Managers and directors will be educated in leadership methods to support safety. These training sessions offer an interactive opportunity for staff to learn about expected safety behaviours and strategies to reduce harm, and discuss with their colleagues how they can best be implemented in each area. By training all staff together we are able to create a common understanding and language around safety.

This approach also involves adopting the principles of high reliability organizations. Through this lens, we’re looking at improving systems, processes and attitudes about error within the hospital environment that will make it easier to conduct safe work.

Another way we are refreshing our approach is through collaboration with other health-care organizations. We have joined Children’s Hospitals Solutions for Patient Safety, a network of over 100 leading North American paediatric hospitals. We are able to learn from organizations that are working towards the same goal, some of whom are further along in their safety journeys. By implementing evidence-based bundles of techniques to reduce hospital acquired conditions, these hospitals have seen dramatic improvements. Their successes add to our confidence in our ability to achieve these goals.

We are also collaborating closer to home with the University Health Network (UHN) by sharing learnings and strategies as well as the Caring Safely name and brand. Through these partnerships SickKids is contributing to the growing shift in health care towards reducing medical errors and creating a safer and more just culture for patients, families and staff.

You can learn more about the Caring Safely initiative directly from Dr. Trey Coffey, Medical Lead for the initiative and Patient Safety Officer at SickKids, in her Perspective: Enhancing patient safety through culture change.