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CPSI Share                                                  
Provider; Leader
6/19/2018 6:00 PM

At the end of May, HealthCareCAN and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute held the 2018 Canadian Patient Safety Officer Course in Ottawa. Mostly front-line healthcare workers and administrators, the 44 attendees from across Canada brought patient safety issues from their institutions and spent four days learning strategies to resolve them.

"I'm a graduate myself," says Mike Cass, Patient Safety Improvement Lead with CPSI, former Intensive Care Unit manager and outpost nurse. "When I was offered the chance to moderate the 2018 course, I jumped at it. I learned as much about team dynamics and creating cultures of patient safety this time as I did when I took the course originally!"

Cass first introduced the attendees to speakers who discussed the history of patient safety in Canada, then shared experiences from the patient, physician, and health board of directors perspectives. Future Patient Safety Officers in the audience asked questions about the topic and were challenged to come up with solutions to challenges posed by the speakers among their table groups. The stories shared included a mother's quest for answers after complications during delivery left her son permanently disabled, a doctor's candid memory of his first days in practice, and how the harm she saw and couldn't prevent led a healthcare leader to insist on patient safety changes.

After providing this grounding in current healthcare culture, the curriculum began training in earnest. From the mechanics of safety measurement to the study of resiliency and reliability in systems, from modeling a just culture in the healthcare environment and managing the organic growth of behaviour change to the details of project proposal planning, the course includes solid academic instruction from some of the leading names in their fields.

However, the program also included sessions on designing spaces for human users in order to limit possible mistakes and a fascinating afternoon on logical decision-making in high stress environments. Sessions ended early on the fourth day with an emergency physician's description of rolling out the system taught at the Patient Safety Officer Course in his own Winnipeg hospital. The pace of learning was never slow, but attendees remained engaged through participation activities and team work on the challenges they brought with them to the course. Each of these challenges represented a way to increase the safety of the people in their care.

"There are some ideas and initiatives I can put in place as soon as I get back on Monday," says Lacey Embacher, Patient Safety and Risk Management Coordinator at Georgian Bay General Hospital in Ontario, "and there are others that will require patience as I enlist a champion among the physicians and my Board. I loved being able to work on an actual challenge I'm facing right now. This course was nothing short of inspiring, and gave me the tools I was looking for to implement change at my organization."

"My take-away message was to do with ownership," says Gillian Mah-Thompson, a Pharmacist on the Medication Management Safety Team at Covenant Health in Alberta. " I can see greater success with our future safety initiatives when we truly involve our staff, patients, and families very early on, so that we are truly in partnership with them through the entire journey.  Going one step further from engagement into ownership will make the safety initiative so much more impactful and meaningful to the patients, families, and staff."

"My other big take-away was to do with the second victim," she continues.  "When we truly support our staff through effective communication, teamwork, transparency, and trust, we are improving team fitness, employee wellness, and ultimately patient safety."

"Some of the returning speakers were discussing the excitement and engagement in the audience," says Mike Cass. "They love coming back. The patient safety solutions they present catch on so strongly: the fixes have worked in hospitals and clinics around the world. These professionals will use these strategies to help grow the patient safety culture back at the ward or the office. They will go back home and save lives."

"In fact, they even tend to come up with ideas among themselves and exchange contact information so they can connect with each other after the course," Cass continues. The Patient Safety Officer Course offers discussion boards and individual mentorship up to a year after graduation. The course's nearly 500 alumni also have a vibrant Facebook community where they share the challenges and successes of introducing patient safety measures in their institutions. In response, they share support and advice with each other and welcome several of the course's speakers as contributing members of the group.

HealthCareCAN and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute are building the patient safety culture in Canada, one graduating class at a time.

For more information on the annual four-day, immersive Canadian Patient Safety Officer Course, or to find out about the online version complete with individual mentorship and work-at-your-own-pace learning modules, contact Megan Taylor at the Canadian Patient Safety Institute,