News : More Hospital Safety Issues Reported with New Hotline
March 25, 2014 -- Reports of safety issues at a Saskatoon hospital have skyrocketed since a 24-hour hotline launched, but health officials say the Safety Alert system is working as intended.
"We realized there was 14 different ways in which staff could report safety issues and we heard from staff that it was very confusing," said Petrina McGrath, vice-president of people, practices and quality with the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR).
The Safety Alert system launched at St. Paul’s hospital on March 11. The hotline allows both staff and patients to call and report any kind of safety issue within the region – whether it has already happened or if there is potential for injury.
Once an issue is reported to the call center, staff will categorize the level of risk and then make sure there is a response.
"The higher level of potential harm, the higher up in the organization that the response comes from, the quicker the response arrives," McGrath explained.
She said that staff handle a lot of safety issues on their own, but now there is an easy place to call for help to sort out problems.
"Also, it allows us to trend and to actually start to see when we might have trends happening around safety issues either on a daily basis, or weekly or over a month."
More than 50 calls came to the hotline during its first 24 hours. Those calls were to report everything from medication concerns to issues with equipment.
"When you think about acute care hospitals like St. Paul's, we deliver a lot of medications. So it's not too surprising that medication near misses or potential risks are high on the list."
McGrath said in less than two weeks, they have seen a 200 per cent increase in the number of incidents that are being reported.
"One of the key pieces was to really make it very simple for staff to call in and respond in a timely manner so that staff members feel like they're supported in these issues," McGrath said.
Patients and visitors can call if they see issues too.
SHR plans to expand the Safety Alert system to the City and Royal University hospitals next year once the kinks are worked out and the program is running smoothly.
McGrath said plans are in place for a province-wide initiative down the road.
She said the biggest cost is staffing the 24-hour call center, but the goal is to save money in the long-term.
"A lot of our work is around starting to identify things before they happen and hopefully getting on top of them so that we actually prevent harm and impact"
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Saskatoon Health Region:
The Saskatoon Health Region is the largest health region in Saskatchewan, Canada. Primarily based in the city of Saskatoon, the health region operates out of 75 facilities, including 10 hospitals, 29 long term care facilities, and numerous primary health care sites, public health centres, mental health and addictions centres, and community-based facilities. The health region is the largest employer in the province with a staff of 12,877.
Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014