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Nov 12
Innovative system changes how the Region responds to safety events

If you want to report a safety event in Saskatoon Health Region, who are you going to call?

Petrina McGrath, Saskatoon Health Region’s Vice-President of People, Practice and Quality, is hoping you’ll call the Region’s Safety Alert System and is encouraging everyone to do so.

“We want everyone, whether you’re a patient, a family member, an employee or a physician to feel empowered to report safety issues or concerns,” says McGrath. “The ultimate purpose of the Safety Alert System is to understand how we can continue to reliably deliver safe care and service to our patients, clients and residents while protecting the safety of our staff and physicians.”

The Safety Alert System empowers patients, families and healthcare workers to “stop the line” when they spot a potentially harmful situation in order to prevent harm before it occurs.

Staff simulate a safety alert system event.The system was first piloted at St. Paul’s Hospital in March 2014. In July and August of this year, the system was implemented at Saskatoon City Hospital and Royal University Hospital. The initial mandate to design and develop a single, comprehensive safety reporting system came from the Ministry of Health in 2013.

“Protecting patients and healthcare workers is a top priority in Saskatchewan, and that is why Safety Alert/Stop the Line is so valuable. It saves lives, prevents harm and creates a safer environment for everyone,” says Health Minister Dustin Duncan. “Saskatoon Health Region has had great success piloting this initiative, and their work will guide the implementation of Safety Alert/Stop the Line in health regions across Saskatchewan.”

Before implementation of the Safety Alert System, employees had to navigate through thirteen different intakes for reporting safety issues -- an approach that was complex and confusing.

“Now, they call one number and the coordinator on the other end of line fills out their report for them, and the caller knows that the concern will be assigned to the appropriate person for follow up,” explains McGrath.

Having one central intake also makes it possible for patients and family members to report safety issues and concerns.

“We know that safety has been mitigated and restored to the patient or staff in 90 per cent of the calls to the Safety Alert System. The system also allows for a standardized response process for all safety concerns, with more serious issues being addressed much quicker than before,” says McGrath.

Implementing the system in all three hospitals in Saskatoon was a challenge, but preparing for implementation was made easier through simulation training from the Saskatoon Institute for Medical Simulation (SIMS). Funding for the SIMS sessions was generously provided by donors to the Royal University Hospital Foundation.

“SIMS developed incredibly realistic scenarios that gave our managers, directors and vice presidents additional training for responding to safety concerns,” says McGrath. “The simulations really allowed them to test and trial some different approaches in a safe environment.”

The Safety Alert System allows for further tracking and trending of safety issues and concerns, providing a larger and more complete picture of safety overall in the Region.

“We’re responding to safety concerns in a way we never have before, but we know that the system isn’t perfect,” says McGrath. “Safety events are typically underreported. We see on average 1,800 reports a month from our three Saskatoon hospitals. We know that number should be higher. Alerts are critical because we can’t fix what we cannot see.”

Saskatoon Health Region encourages anyone who experiences a safety issue or concern in any of Saskatoon’s three hospitals to report them by calling 306-655-1600. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.




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