August 17, 2007 | | Comments 0
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Don’t use a safety solution’s expense as an excuse to delay implementation

Last time I checked in, I mentioned the need to review your environment of care committee’s meeting minutes to make sure past concerns had been acted upon.

Here’s another suggestion when it comes to your EC paperwork: Make sure that your reports and other documents accurately reflect an appropriate management of issues. For example, say you’ve completed a risk assessment of your outpatient behavioral health unit of the potential for suicide. You’ve identified some quick fixes, some staff educational concerns, etc., but there are a couple of items that are going to have to wait until funding is available.

Please, please, please make sure (and I only mention this because I saw this scenario with my own two eyes) that you do not somehow characterize the decision as having been solely the result of an expense level.

Yes, it is absolutely acceptable to include the financial impact of any intervention as part of the debate–in fact, it is the responsible thing to do. However, you have to stipulate that any choice to hold off on an improvement is not being done at the expense of patient safety. You can never place a high enough price tag on patient safety.

If you identify an action or idea that needs to be improvement, you can (and should) prioritize its implementation, but you must also give equal time to what interim measures you are employ until such time as you can effectively remedy a problem. If you have an identified risk, you do not have the luxury of waiting to do anything. There’s always some incremental measure that can be used as a stop-gap instead of merely saying, “We don’t have the funds to carry this solution out.”

Steve Mac.

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Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at

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