For much of two decades, health care has brought extensive attention to “patient safety.” Root cause analyses. Electronic records. Sentinel event reporting. Creating patient safety officers and expanded quality management and risk management departments. Pay for performance and safety ratings systems.Wave after wave of initiatives meant to create a culture than identifies risks and prevents harm.

Many of the technology and analysis solutions are great, and implementing them still relies heavily on transparency, effective communication, coordination of care, and teamwork. That’s a lot to ask under the intense money and time pressures facing professionals used to autonomy and highly specialized care. Then there is always the spectre of litigation bearing down on professionals and organizations alike.

And yet we know that the majority of sentinel events are caused by communication breakdowns, despite all the great efforts to date. Combining the expertise of communication professionals and health care professionals pays off in more effective patient safety initiatives and better patient care.

Collaboration Specialists professionals enhance patient safety work through:

Wasnington, DC (Army Medicine, 2011)
  • Training in effective communication with patients and families when there has been harm
  • Designing patient harm “disclosure” programs that support clinicians and patients, and int-
    egrate with legal and liability carrier programs
  • Facilitations when organizations are designing or  rolling out initiatives
  • Training staff in facilitation skills for dealing with sensitive subjects such as the causes of a sentinel event
  • Coaching professionals and teams in collaborative  methods
  • Facilitations when departments create rapid
    review processes, consultation guidelines, and
    other methods that prevent harm
  • Conflict management training or coaching for
    information technology professionals working
    with users on technology solutions