Donna Davis knows firsthand that when you are informed, you can help drive change.
As Co-Chair of Patients for Patient Safety Canada, a faculty member for the Safe Surgery Saves Lives Surgical Checklist, and participating in a working group to help revise content for the Safer Healthcare Now! Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Getting Started Kit, Donna says that the more she gets involved, the more knowledge she gains about how to make care safer.
The patient and family perspective provides a wealth of knowledge in improving safe care. By collaborating in a positive way and using stories to help effect change, patients and families can be part of the solution and contribute to change that needs to be made. Any time patient care is affected, whether it is a policy or procedural change, there should be a patient at the table to provide input. Including patients and families of all aspects of the care before, during and after the surgery is paramount.
When Donna’s daughter Deidre required complicated bladder surgery, Donna told her about the Safe Surgery Checklist. Following the surgery, Deidre told her mother that her doctor had used the Checklist prior to the operation and then said to the surgical team, “Do you have any questions about this surgery? I am counting on all of you to keep Deidre safe, as this is a very complicated procedure.” Deidre says that made her feel safe because she knew her surgical team would be watching for things that may have otherwise been overlooked or missed. When Donna tells Deidre’s story, she says it changes the conversation and provides insight that healthcare providers may not have previously considered.
Donna advocates that the voice of the patient can enhance safer care. “The patient is a partner in their care and can help providers to do their job to keep them safe,” says Donna. “When you are a confident partner in your care, it makes it you feel valued, respected and heard when you are asked what you feel, what you think and what you experienced.”
“Very often there is a gap in communication between people involved,” says Donna. “You have to consider when extra support or information is required during the hand-off of care.” She encourages patients to be inquisitive, to ask questions and not be afraid to speak-up when something feels amiss. The more you know the more you can do to ensure the care you receive is safe. When patients are informed and knowledgeable, they can help to drive change by asking for the processes that keep them safe, such as asking healthcare providers to wash their hands, asking if the surgical checklist will be used, or asking if a medication or procedure is necessary.