June 22, 2017 | | Comments 0
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(TBT) Checklists: Easy to take for granted

Editor’s Note: This is a free Briefings on Accreditation and Quality article from yesteryear! If you like it, check out more of our work covering quality and accreditation! 

Checklist

In any organization’s quality department there lives a nefarious, ever-present beast. It’s usually in paper form and comprises a list of seemingly innocuous phrases or sentences and to the far right is the “checkbox.” It’s easy to become disdainful of checklists, but the reality is they play an important role.

I’m sure we’ve all heard some of the complaints.

Often these checklists include things such as, “Are there any wall penetrations?” or “Do staff know where the closest fire extinguisher is?” These questions often can be grating to hospital administrative teams because it’s “one more thing” they have to worry about and it can be frustrating during surveys to be “caught” on things that “don’t matter” in the clinical realm.

I hear the reactions to such mundane questions all the time, “Yes, it’s important but we are more concerned with medication errors, fall rates, sentinel events. Who has time to check for escusions? Shouldn’t there be a weighting scheme to it all?”

The reality is that checklists are important, and they’re focused on patient safety and care. Escusion plates and wall penetrations exist for those unthinkable times when hospitals catch fire, a rare and devastating event. When fires occur, though, those safety measures limit the impact fire and smoke can have to the most vulnerable of populations. The same can be said about medication errors and sentinel events: they are rare and potentially devastating. The measures organizations take to prevent harm must be all-encompassing.

When being confronted with checkboxes, do not put them off as non-mission critical, or roll your eyes at the people who bring them to your attention. These are safety measures, clear and simple, that must be addressed with the same type of immediacy.

Moreover, the idea of checkboxes must become incorporated into the everyday fabric of hospital operations and not delegated to one person doing safety rounds once per quarter. Educate frontline leaders to remain abreast of their own areas or have them round on other departments to keep a fresh set of eyes on the organization. Have it be part of the expectation as opposed to being something extra you ask of your leadership team.

Healthcare isn’t easy; it takes a concentrated effort to remain diligent. Healthcare exists to take care of people at their most vulnerable, which means being vigilant about the checkboxes, too.

Editor’s note: Patrick Pianezza, MHA, has worked with the Studer Group and Johns Hopkins Hospital. In his most recent role, Pianezza’s work drove organizational performance in HCAHPS to an all-time hospital best in the 90th percentile. He can be reached at ppianezza@gmail.com.

Entry Information

Filed Under: AccreditationPatient SafetyQuality

Brian Ward About the Author: Brian Ward is an Associate Editor at HCPro working on accreditation news.

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