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Listening is a Big Part of Patient Safety Too

Two weeks ago, in the middle of another Chicago snowstorm, a surprise phone call reminded me that patient safety is more than a checklist.

A college friend  said her dad was on a ventilator in a community hospital 100 miles away.  He feared he would die unless he was transferred to a Chicago hospital and the family had no idea how to do that.

Without hesitation, we made one call to a hospital that I knew had TeleTracking’s solutions, and the following night he and his family slept soundly for the first time in weeks.  My friend said her dad experienced a wonderful week of care in Chicago, went home under hospice care and had a peaceful death a week later surrounded by his family.

Looking back, it’s apparent to me that feeling safe can be as important as being safe.  No patient should fear for their safety while being cared for.  It’s vitally important to listen to patients and their loved ones and let them know are there to treat and comfort them, even if their fear is of the unknown.

I share this story to highlight a few very critical aspects of care during national patient safety week.

Safety is not solely following procedures, highlighting risks for patients, or verifying and reconciling medications.  Structures, technology, and processes are put into place to support a culture of safe care.  Communication and listening is essential, but often taken for granted.

Please take time to listen to your patient’s perspective, and their concerns, and share the aspects of your organizations processes that support safe delivery of care with them.  If they have trust in the system, understand why certain activities occur, and see vigilance in these procedures as they interact with their many care providers they will feel more safe.

My experience highlighted for me the continued importance of this in our daily work.  Thank you for keeping patients safe and for the work that we all do—it is this human connection that is patient safety’s most critical ally.

Happy Patient Safety Week!

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