Plan. Do. Check. Act.

That was what two teams of staff did to make improvements to their areas at Saskatoon City Hospital recently.

Staff had noted issues with the flow of patients in two areas, both connected to the orthopedic clinic, and decided to take action to solve those issues in March by using a Lean tool called a PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act).

One of the issues had clients doubling back within the facility. After admission, orthopedic patients were making their way to the orthopedic clinic to pick up their X-ray requisitions, then backtracking to Diagnostic Imaging for an X-ray before returning to the orthopedic clinic for their appointment. As many of these patients use crutches, wheelchairs or walkers, the extra 300 feet or so of walking was having a major impact on them.

To address the issue, staff designed a system to provide those orthopedic clients needing to visit Diagnostic Imaging with a requisition right at Medical Imaging. A red card is placed in the charts of these clients at admitting – a visual cue that they should be directed to Medical Imaging first.

Patients who need X-rays before their appointment at the Orthopedic Clinic at Saskatoon City Hospital are now given these cards at registration to direct them to Medical Imaging first, saving them steps.

Patients who need X-rays before their appointment at the Orthopedic Clinic at Saskatoon City Hospital are now given these cards at registration to direct them to Medical Imaging first, saving them steps.

This change essentially cuts the distance travelled by these clients in half.

Using a PDCA, staff at SCH also tackled an issue involving access to orthopedic equipment at the hospital. A staff member from the Operating Room was having to travel nearly 900 feet to the orthopedic clinic in order to get post-operative boots and braces when they were needed. Not only did this mean a staff member from the OR traveling that distance and back again, but further difficulties were encountered when the equipment was later required by the orthopedic clinic.

So standard work was developed so that necessary equipment is now stocked in the operating room, and staff there will be accountable for the products used in the OR.  This change cuts down on both travel distance and time for OR staff and ensures the OR will have the necessary equipment when it is needed.

“The ideas for these improvements all came from staff, and I am so grateful for their work,” noted Jackie Mann, Vice President of Integrated Health Services.  “By noting a problem and coming up with solutions, they have made important improvements for patients at Saskatoon City Hospital.  I truly believe that it is through the improvement ideas and the work lead by our staff right at the point of care and service that we will make things better every single day.”