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CPSI Share                                                  
3/29/2012 6:00 PM

​Implementing a patient safety education program at The Credit Valley Hospital and Trillium Health Centre is key to enhancing patient safety culture, and the Patient Safety Education Program Canada (PSEP Canada) is the tool that has been deployed to develop solutions and strategies for widespread changes that are mindful of and improve patient safety.

The patient safety education program is being offered at two Trillium sites in two concurrent streams:  Lunch and Learn workshops that are open to all staff and PSEP – Canada Ambassador training sessions for a targeted group of 45 individuals across the organization.  The PSEP Canada materials form the foundation of these two streams.  The program is delivered by Dr. Amir Ginzburg, Physician Director, Patient Safety and Quality at the Trillium site, who is a PSEP Canada Master Facilitator, and an inter-professional team from Trillium that are certified as PSEP Canada Patient Safety Trainers. The train-the-trainer program is taking hold and staff are using their PSEP Canada training to deal with difficult issues, develop feedback mechanisms, improve communication and promote critical thinking.

Elena Holt, Manager of Cardiac Surgery, is one of Trillium’s inaugural PSEP – Canada Ambassadors, a term used to describe the end-users from Trillium’s local deployment of PSEP Canada.  Holt says that the patient safety education program provides an opportunity to be interactive with her staff and the immediate feedback she has received is that it has effectively filled an educational gap.  “This is a relatively new role for me and some of the staff is also new.  We have the opportunity to tap into the PSEP knowledge and bring it to the frontline staff.  We just trained about 50 staff from our cardiac surgery ward specifically around patient safety and they just loved it. They are now talking about patient safety, really engaged in it and asking for more.  Our department is going through a number of significant changes and this opportunity to be interactive around patient safety really inspired our staff during a time when they may have buckled under pressure from everything that they are going through.  It brings them back to why they came into healthcare and provides a framework that they use in their day-to-day work to enhance the patient experience.”

Heather Ead, Surgical Clinical Educator and a Trillium PSEP – Canada Ambassador has been able to very quickly deploy many of the PSEP – Canada core concepts in real world situations.  “A few days after our session on medication safety and human factors an opportunity came up in an improvement initiative to use the information I learned.  I was able to bring new ideas and enhance the implementation of safe medication practices on my ward,” says Ead.  “The frontline really can give you valuable information and are very open to tell you when something is not working well.  When you give them information to reframe their concerns using a patient safety lens, it empowers them and reinforces that they should and can speak up; changes can be made.  It changes the culture.”

Suzi Laj has been a clinical nurse educator for about five years and recently transitioned to a Quality and Patient Safety Advisor role.  “The Patient Safety Education Program – Canada really makes you look at things differently.  When I am facilitating a workshop for the PSEP Ambassadors, I want them to be able to take both a retrospective and prospective look at potential safety issues and risks so that they can make a change before we have an adverse event.”  

As the Inter-Professional Coordinator for medical learners, Laj is also taking modules of the PSEP – Canada  curriculum to present at a four-hour workshop on patient safety to undergraduate students from the University of Toronto in May 2012.  The workshop topics will focus on communication and teamwork, gaps in patient safety and partnering with patients.  Laj says that the PSEP Canada format and materials met all of the criteria to be accredited as an interdisciplinary education program.

One of the sessions offered in the patient safety education program is focused on communication and teamwork to reinforce direct, consistent information transfer between healthcare professionals.  “Nursing and allied staff sometimes see things quite different from physicians,” says Dr. Ginzburg.  “Communication at two in the morning or in high stress circumstances can often be challenging.  The participants learn structured communication techniques and use case-based scenarios and role play with a physician in a safe environment to solidify the concepts.  Participants have told us they feel more confident in their ability to effectively communicate across professional silos when those phone calls need to be made for the safety of the patient.  The opportunity to practise with a physician has been a great opportunity and very empowering.” 

“Patient safety is not a just a nice thing to do, but the way we should be thinking all of the time,” says Dr. Ginzburg.  “It is more than patients being safe; as an industry we are opening our eyes to recognize that enhancing patient safety is a core value in how we deliver healthcare and a state of patient safety mindfulness needs to be part of our everyday clinical practice.  We feel we are on the right track with our patient safety education program and we hope to have some innovative and impactful results to share in the future.”

This article is the second in a series on the Patient Safety Education Program – Canada, to highlight how healthcare organizations have adapted the curriculum to advance the culture of patient safety.  Click here for more information on PSEP Canada or visit