The Innovations in Patient Safety Education (IPSE) Awards recognize organizations, groups and individuals that demonstrate exemplary practices in patient safety and quality improvement using the Patient Safety Education Program – Canada (PSEP – Canada). Patient safety trainers from healthcare organizations across the country are eligible for awards in three categories: the Power of One, the Power of an Organization and the Power of a System.
The Regional Paramedic Program for Eastern Ontario (RPPEO) is the recipient of the 2016 IPSE Power of a System award for their outstanding contribution and commitment to improving patient safety and quality improvement practices, experiences and outcomes for their patients.
Partnering with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, the RPPEO modified and customized the PSEP – Canada curriculum to promote patient safety education expertise with key decision makers and support staff working in pre-hospital care. This commitment to building a strong culture of patient safety and influence system-level change in Ontario pre-hospital care is a model for emergency medical services and paramedicine across the country.
The planning process started in early 2015 and it took just over a year for the concept to take root. "This was a fairly new concept for paramedics in Ontario; we had to get people on board with the idea and ensure they had time to budget for the program within their fiscal year," says Ivanette Hargreaves, Manager, Special Projects and Educations Strategy, RPPEO. "It took a fair bit of time and far more communication avenues than the norm to ensure success. Collaborating with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute to communicate and leveraging their database with ours in paramedicine we were able to reach out to more than 15,000 stakeholders within 53 municipally-based paramedic services, eight medical oversight base hospitals, numerous educational institutions and countless working groups. Working together helped to get change makers on board and infiltrate the idea throughout the province."
Initially, the RPPEO thought they would start small within their own region to establish a foothold and then gain interest across the province. They aimed for 30 participants for the PSEP – Canada workshop and in the end cut off registration at 40, with many more on a waiting list. The participants represented a good cross-section of people working in paramedicine, including representatives from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Emergency Health Services Branch; two base hospital programs; two hospitals; and one preparatory College.
The PSEP – Canada workshop was an excellent opportunity for networking and idea generation. The curriculum was modified to include case studies relevant to those working in emergency services, based on actual patient presentations. Using care-based patient safety issues brought forward by participants created a realistic platform and ownership of the content, which has had an impact on the sustainability of the modified program.
One of the modules in the workshop focused on medication safety and medication reconciliation in paramedicine. Having a second person to check medication labels is not a possibility in the back of an ambulance. Medication reconciliation is difficult if you are responding to a trauma or in someone's home. Key pieces of information are not available to the paramedic that may become available later on in a hospital environment. "We had some very interesting conversations about those key concepts and how to relate them to paramedicine," says Hargreaves. "The reality is, it is the same patient. The same concepts will work, we just have to figure that out."
A consulting group is being considered to further refine content for future workshops and formalize patient safety in paramedicine. "The Canadian Patient Safety Institute has done an incredible job of bringing together networks across the country," says Hargreaves. "That is something that does not exist currently for paramedic services. We need to define how we can take the knowledge of working together collaboratively as organizations and bring that to paramedic services, rather than reinventing the wheel."
"We are very proud to receive the Power of a System award," says Hargreaves. "Our work has just begun. It is exciting but a little bit daunting because there is a lot to do. Paramedicine is ready to learn more about patient safety. They care very much about the people they serve and know that as a healthcare system, we can do better. "