Rice uses event as a showcase for quality and safety

WILLMAR -- The patient was sprawled half in, half out, of his hospital bed. A cigarette was clamped between his lips, inches away from his oxygen supply.

WILLMAR -- The patient was sprawled half in, half out, of his hospital bed. A cigarette was clamped between his lips, inches away from his oxygen supply.

On his food tray lay a bloody bandage. Beside it was an unlabeled urine specimen container.

How many things are wrong with this picture?

Christine Riemersma and Linda Rood, of the housekeeping staff at Rice Memorial Hospital, studied the fake scene, checklists in hand.

"I have six so far," Riemersma volunteered.


The scene Thursday at Rice Hospital's annual quality and safety fair may have been staged, but the message it delivered was very real: Patient safety is serious business.

The annual safety fair gives the hospital staff a chance each year to showcase what they're doing to enhance safety and quality of care for patients at Rice.

"This event highlights the true quality service that we provide here," said Teri Beyer, the hospital's chief quality officer.

"Our first mission is to keep patients safe and provide quality care while they're here. Quality and safety are so important in the delivery of patient care and services that these efforts are woven into the way care is done."

Nearly 20 initiatives were on display Thursday, ranging from allergy documentation and skin care to streamlining the operation of the hospital's laboratory.

Posterboards, photos and charts helped illustrate each project. Some teams, such as the committee working on the safe collection of hazardous waste, even brought their own props.

"There's been a lot of effort involved," Beyer said. "They have a lot of fun with it. Many of them look forward to it."

Ideas for quality and safety projects come from a variety of sources, she said. Some are suggested by staff and physicians. Others are borrowed from other hospitals or driven by new regulations.


Data collection is emphasized to ensure each of the initiatives is actually making a difference in patient care or the hospital environment.

A project to promote safe patient handling, for instance, was able to demonstrate a decrease in the number of back strain injuries, a longtime occupational hazard for nurses and aides.

Registered nurse Jean Christen showed off the latest thing being studied by the committee: a so-called transfer slide.

"It's put under the patient to boost or to transfer them from the edge of the bed," she explained. "Hopefully this is something we can implement."

For the mock hospital room, dubbed the "room of horrors," staff borrowed the board room, trundling in a hospital bed and mannequin to stage a scene both realistic and outrageous. Employees were invited to study the picture and come up with a list of everything they saw that was wrong. (There were 22 in all.)

Some were obvious -- for instance, the patient's cigarette in close proximity to oxygen. "Those do not mix," said Jan Nelson, a nursing unit coordinator and one of the organizers of the fake scene.

Others were a little harder to spot. By noontime, no one had yet noticed the two frayed areas on a power cord, Nelson said. They also had failed to spot that the patient's chest tube was clamped.

The scenario might have been a little far-fetched, but some of the details, such as the bandage on the food tray and an overflowing container for used sharps, were based on experience, said Berdelle Ingeman of the Rice education department. "We know it happens at times," she said.


"It sends a message," said Nelson. "We know this isn't how it's supposed to be, but to actually see it outrageously wrong is educational."

Four entries in the safety fair were singled out by a judges' panel as the top projects.

Among large-scale, multidisciplinary projects, first place went to an initiative for documenting skin care, and second place to a project for managing insulin protocols.

Among the smaller-scale, single-department projects, an initiative to develop a nursing value analysis took first place and a project for charting the care of central lines was second.

All the entries will be on display for the rest of the week, and the winners will be displayed through next week as well, Beyer said.

She noted there has been growing interest from the public in seeing the hospital's safety and quality efforts. "It is educational for the public," she said.

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