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|Not a Casual Business|
With a well-rounded background in health care and patient safety, Janet Jacob, MBA, RN, CPPS, seized the opportunity to become certified in patient safety. She was among the first of those to be awarded the CPPS credential after passing the exam in March 2012.
As senior director of patient safety at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Janet Jacob, MBA, RN, CPPS, has many opportunities to talk about safety science. Her hospital is internationally known for quality and safety, and in her role, she frequently hosts teams from near and far who come to learn best practices.
“Nurses and doctors were not taught improvement or safety science in school. They understand that health care needs to improve and when introduced to the basics of systems thinking and safety, lights go on,” Ms. Jacob says. “Until they have that basic understanding, there is a piece missing. Now, discussions have matured past talking about an error or near miss. We now talk about what we predict what might happen that is unexpected and plan mitigation strategies.”
From her start as a candy striper at age 15 to achieving licensure as an LPN, then an RN, working in critical care, and being awarded an MBA, Ms. Jacob has kept her finger on the pulse of the patient safety field from its infancy. Like many others, she had a dramatic response to the IOM report, To Err Is Human. “I made a decision at that time that I was going to be very proactive with this and be working my best to really make patient safety come alive in an organization,” she says.
Part of that commitment involved taking a weeklong course offered by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. At the time, Ms. Jacob was working for a faith-based organization in Florida, in a job with responsibilities that touched 36 facilities. She dove into data analysis and met experts in the field, among them, her mentor, Bryan Sexton, PhD, MA.
“He and Peter Pronovost had just completed the Keystone Initiative that demonstrated they could eliminate central line infections if they use bundles,” she recalls. “They called to ask, ‘do you think your organization can help us not only validate what we learned, but also prove nursing causality in eliminating infections?’” It turns out they could, and demonstrated it in a randomized trial.
Then Ms. Jacob and her family moved to Ohio, and Cincinnati Children’s became her professional home. She credits the hospital’s leadership team with creating an environment where the entire organization is focused on eliminating harm. “I have the honor to work with Drs. Uma Kotagal, Steve Muething and Derek Wheeler. Incredible physician leaders who are improving the outcomes of children throughout the world,” she says.
But there is another side to Ms. Jacob’s experience, a patient and family side, that has been touched by medical error. Her uncle, a West Point graduate and a mathematician, died because of an error in his chemotherapy dose. “His oncologist, who was his very, very close friend, had to tell him that he was going to die because of a math error,” she says. She recalled his story in an article she wrote while serving on the board of Consumers Advancing Patient Safety.
With that extensive and well-rounded background, Ms. Jacob seized the opportunity to become certified in patient safety. She was among the first of those to be awarded the CPPS credential after passing the exam in March 2012.
“A lot of organizations will say, ‘We’re for patient safety, we’re for reliability,’ but they don’t always know what that means,” she says. “This certification provides the ability to say, ‘I understand what it means, and I know what we can do to help get there.’ It demonstrates a commitment and a competence in a field that is just absolutely critical.
“In any profession, you need to be certified to show that you have at least reached that competence and have a commitment to continually grow,” she adds. “When what you do has eternal consequences, there is no casual business.”