At The Johns Hopkins Hospital, many departments support part- or full-time patient safety officers to oversee and coordinate their safety efforts. In addition, some clinical units have appointed patient safety nurses, who work up to half time in similar roles. Units may also designate a smaller portion of a physician’s schedule for these efforts.
While everyone has a role to play in reducing errors and complications, designating clinicians as their areas’ patient safety specialists has several advantages. For example, they have the time to thoroughly investigate adverse-event reports that unit-based nurse managers may not be able to review in great detail. These safety officers can peel back the layers of their broken health care systems and design system changes that will reduce the likelihood of future events.
Safety officers also have the time and support to conduct more ambitious initiatives in their departments or units—for example, to develop, implement and evaluate patient safety programs.
The Roles of a Departmental Patient Safety Officer
At The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the patient safety officer collaborates with unit staff, departmental leadership and the hospital’s central patient safety office to:
- promote a safety-supportive culture and consistent application of evidence-based medicine
- analyze and identify trends from adverse-event reports
- support educational programs in patient safety
- implement safety initiatives as directed by nursing and medical leadership
- help to spread “lessons learned” from adverse events, as well as successful initiatives, to other units and departments
- foster a clinical environment of service excellence
Patient Safety Officer Training
The Center for Innovation provides guidance and training for future and current patient safety practitioners. See our training calendar for details.