Brigham & Women's Hospital Explores Non-Punitive Ways To Deal With Patient Safety Errors

Admitting guilt is not something people usually like to do, especially when it comes to professionals who work in the healthcare industry, as their mistakes generally have drastic consequences.

But while it may be difficult at times to come to terms with past mistakes, whether minor or serious, it is encouraged in the medical industry to admit any and all errors, according to BWH.

Brigham Women’s Hospital started a blog last June sharing all of the mistakes they have made and what they have learned from their experiences.

The hospital has become dedicated to absolute transparency as they reveal the stories from start to finish illustrating the issues in depth. More importantly, Brigham Women’s Hospital explains how they are making improvements to prevent the mistakes from happening again.

These cases are non-punitive reviews that do not point blame at any one person. The hospital sees the mistakes as opportunities to manage risk rather than scenarios that should result in employment termination.

While the reviews may be difficult for the individuals who are technically at fault, the Brigham Women’s Hospital employees understand the value that surfaces when they speak about their adverse experiences.

Whether they find patient care errors (even if they were not involved), nearly make a mistake but catch it, or see a potentially hazardous condition, BWH employees implement their five step process when adverse events arise:

1. Show Identification: Please be sure your care team checks your patient ID, name and date of birth before any test or treatment. Speak up and ask a question if staff do not introduce themselves, wear a name badge or explain how they will be part of your care.

2. Ask Questions: Confirm that you and your care team agree on any procedure, surgery and plan of care. Ask about your test results, especially if you haven’t received them in the timeframe your care provider told you. Don’t assume that no news means good news. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

3. Update Medicine Lists: Carry a list of all medicines you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements. Speak up if a medicine looks unfamiliar or if you have questions.

4. Prevent Infections: Please get the vaccines you need. All staff and visitors should clean their hands often to prevent spreading germs. Speak up if you observe someone not cleaning their hands. Wear a mask if you are sick to protect those around you from getting sick.

5. Report Safety Concerns: Tell us if something makes you worry or feel unsafe. Speak up if you see something that could make you fall so we can clean the area. Use your call light if you need any help.