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Identification of Latent Safety Threats Using High-Fidelity Simulation-Based Training with Multidisciplinary Neonatology Teams

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Background: Latent safety threats (LSTs) are errors in design, organization, training, or maintenance that may contribute to medical errors and have a significant impact on patient safety. The investigation described in this article was conducted as part of a larger prospective, longitudinal evaluation using laboratory- and in situ simulation–based training sessions to improve technical and nontechnical skills of neonatal ICU (NICU) providers at a Level III academic NICU.

Methods: Simulations were performed in laboratory (4 scenarios per session) and in situ (1 scenario per session) settings with multidisciplinary neonatology teams. Facilitators and subjects identified LSTs during standardized debriefings immediately following each scenario After enrollment, facilitators classified LSTs into equipment, medication, personnel, resource, or technical skill. Pervasive team knowledge gaps were further subclassified into lack of awareness or understanding, procedure performed incorrectly, omission of necessary action, or inappropriate action.

Results: In a 19-month period of enrollment (August 2009–March 2011), 177 subjects of 202 NICU providers were trained in the laboratory, 135 of whom participated in the in situ sessions. In the laboratory, 22 sessions were completed, with 70 LSTs identified (0.8 LSTs per scenario). During the 16 in situ sessions, 29 LSTs (1.8 LSTs per scenario) were identified. The 99 LSTs were reported to NICU leadership, leading to 19 documented improvements.

Conclusions: The NICU setting has a high rate of previously unidentified LSTs. Conducting in situ scenarios allows for the identification of novel LSTs not detected in the simulation laboratory. The subsequent clinical improvements made to the actual clinical care environment are the best objective evidence of the benefits of simulation-based multidisciplinary team training.

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • 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.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

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