Is safety truly our top priority? How can we focus on safety when we are challenged daily with our patient flow? How can we put patient and staff safety first when faced with daily budget pressures and decisions?

These are questions leaders are being asked as Saskatoon Health Region reaches the two month mark with the Safer Every Day 90-day initiative.

And the answers for keeping safety first, and ultimately patients first, will come through the foundational work underway with Safer Every Day.

“The three are interconnected. We know that when patient flow is ‘red’, safety incidents increase for both patients and staff,” says Petrina McGrath, co-lead for Safer Every Day. “And beyond the devastating harm we can cause to ourselves and to our patients, we also know safety and patient flow adds to the vicious cycle when you mix in budget effects. For example, as we are faced with time loss injuries because of a safety incident related to overcapacity, our budget pressures increase.”

Safer Every Day is taking one of the elements within this cycle and diving deep.

“This work is about looking far below the surface,” Dr. Susan Shaw, co-lead for Safer Every Day. “It’s about digging down to the core issues or problems in safety that, in the end, impact so many other things in our organization.”

“The work being done during Safer Every Day is largely foundational work,” agrees McGrath, “But the outcomes of Safer Every Day will be able to be built upon in the weeks and months ahead to shape future safety improvement work, which will ultimately help with patient flow and budget.”

For an example, Shaw points to the work going on with the Team Communication and Performance group on Acute Care Pediatrics.

“In a care team, poor communication can impact everything, especially patient care,” says Shaw. “Regardless of the fact that we’re all in the healthcare field, professions are educated and trained differently. While our goal is to always do what is best for the patient, in an interprofessional environment, we may not always understand what each other need in order to get to that goal. It can cause miscommunication, confusion and even mistakes from time to time.”

She adds that improving those communications, teaching and coaching skills can go a long way to improving safety in the long term.

Some may the question the logic of investing in things, such as the peer-to-peer support program that the Safer Every Day Psychological Safety team is putting forth for approval, when the budget is tight. According to McGrath, it’s the right call. “If the investment is for something that will protect the mental health and well-being of our patients, physicians and staff and it will assist us in getting to where we want to be as an organization, it’s absolutely what we should be doing,” she says. “We just need to keep the following questions in mind; what would a Saskatchewan taxpayer think about this expense? What will the impact of this expense be on patient, resident and client care? And is this expense necessary, especially given the Region is in a deficit?”

Here is a further breakdown on Safer Every Day foundational outcomes and the actions underway to achieve these by Day 90:
(click images to see a larger versions)

Safer Every Day Goals

Safer Every Day Teams