American Anesthesiology, a national medical group based in Sunrise, Fla., is taking steps to improve patient care and outcomes through an innovative Patient Safety Initiative at its Atlanta-based practice.
The Patient Safety Initiative, a critical step in improving patient outcomes, is a comprehensive program designed to ensure that a “culture of safety” exists throughout the entire perioperative process. The program encompasses the same principles found in High Reliability Organizations (HRO), such as those in the aerospace and aviation industries. The Patient Safety Initiative was developed in conjunction with several former top-gun pilots who use these principles every day to ensure a culture of safety in the cockpit.
“Aviation is considered an HRO and healthcare should use aviation as a model to become one,” states Dr. Jeff Shapiro, medical director of American Anesthesiology’s practice at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “In both aviation and healthcare, safety is crucial in protecting lives and the need to be consistent and manage the unexpected is a constant.”
Shapiro’s practice is the pilot program for a national roll-out to the company’s 1,600 anesthesia providers throughout eight states.
American Anesthesiology’s Patient Safety Initiative, and its already proven results, could impact millions of patients across the country when rolled-out nationwide. The foundational principles of the program are based on aviation’s tested Crew Resource Management training, which uses teamwork, communication, clearly defined roles, situational awareness, debriefing, checklists and permission to challenge. The program is already impacting and enhancing the culture of safety at his practice and in surgical patient care at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.
“To Err is Human,” a report done in 1999 by the Institute of Medicine, states that healthcare in the U.S. is not as safe as it should be, and that nearly 100,000 people die in hospitals every year as a result of medical error. Beyond the cost of human lives are other “tolls” including billions spent on additional care necessitated by the errors; lost income, productivity and health status levels; loss of trust in the healthcare system; and loss of morale by healthcare professionals.
With an expected reduction in morbidity and complications associated with surgery, patient safety programs like this one are expected to reduce the aforementioned “tolls” and ultimately benefit practices, hospitals, insurance companies and most importantly – patients.