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A Practical Framework for Patient Care Teams to Prospectively Identify and Mitigate Clinical Hazards

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Background: One of the greatest challenges facing both practitioners and risk managers is the identification of previously unknown clinical hazards and defects. With the rapid proliferation of new health care services, unknown hazards may propagate as new therapies are integrated into the existing health care system. The main goal of risk analysis is to make these hazards visible by proactively searching and probing the system. Yet, a comprehensive approach by which to safely integrate new therapies into the existing clinical environment has yet to be clearly articulated. Patient care teams can use the proposed framework when introducing new therapies.

A Practical Framework: The framework includes a background investigation and literature search; an in situ simulation (in the actual clinical setting used for patients); a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis to determine the severity, probability, and risk of the potential hazards; and a multidisciplinary protocol and safety checklist to standardize practice and ensure provider accountability.

Case Examples: Application of this framework to three operative scenarios—intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), and an interventional pulmonology program—demonstrates its flexibility. Its use prospectively identified and mitigated 20 IORT, 5 HIPEC, and 18 interventional pulmonology hazards/defects. Subsequent patient cases were largely uneventful. All cases and patient safety reporting systems are monitored to identify any new defects in an effort to continuously improve patient care.

Conclusion: The use of a comprehensive framework to identify and mitigate hazards in an on-site simulated environment promotes safer care for target patient populations; results in familiarity with procedures, amelioration of staff concerns, and standardization of practice; and facilitates teamwork and communication.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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