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Making Patient Safety Everyone’s Job

Wednesday, September 10, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Mark Alpert
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ASPPS Members Earn Certification in Patient Safety

When Jan Decrescenzo, RN, CPPS, was applying for a job in risk management at Edward Hospital and Health Services in Illinois, she had an interview with Patti Ludwig-Beymer, RN, PhD, CTN, NEA-BC, FAAN, vice president and chief nursing officer.


“One of the questions I asked was, ‘whose job is patient safety,’ knowing from years of experience that there is usually a designated patient safety officer,” Ms. Decrescenzo recalls. “But Patti said, ‘patient safety is everybody’s job,’ and I liked that. That was one of the selling points for me for this position.”


Today, that outlook on safety is widely embraced at Edward. A number of staff members from a variety of disciplines and departments have joined the American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety at NPSF (ASPPS). Moreover, Ms. Decrescenzo, Dr. Ludwig-Beymer, and 10 of their fellow Edward colleagues—all ASPPS members—recently passed the examination to earn the Certified Professional in Patient Safety credential (CPPS).
“We really view the focus on safety as part of our journey to high reliability,” said Dr. Ludwig-Beymer. 


Setting the Safety Standard

Standing, left to right: Jan Decrescenzo, Karen Sommers, Jolanta Gargano, Patti Ludwig-Beymer, Mary Anderson, Madiha Syed
Seated, left to right: Kate Pruiett, Dawn Clark, Joanne Abeling, Nancy Rosenbery
  • Joanne Abeling, MS, RN, MT (ASCP), CPHQ, CPPS
  • Mary Anderson, MT (ASCP), CIC, CPHQ, CPPS
  • Nancy Armstrong, RN, CPPS
  • Dawn Clark, RN, CPPS
  • Jan Decrescenzo, RN, CPPS
  • Jola Gargano, RN, CPPS
  • Patti Ludwig-Beymer, RN, PhD, CTN, NEA-BC, FAAN, CPPS
  • Kathleen Pruiett, RN, CPPS
  • Nancy Rosenbery, MJ, RNC-OB, CPHQ, CPPS
  • Tom Scaletta, MD, CPPS
  • Karen Sommers, RN, CPPS
  • Madiha Syed, PharmD, CPPS
The Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS) examination is an evidence-based, multidisciplinary examination developed to assess competency in patient safety. Conferred by the Certification Board for Professionals in Patient Safety (CBPPS), the credential was introduced in 2012 as a means by which health professionals could demonstrate their competency in the science and application of patient safety principles.
Kathryn Rapala, DNP, JD, RN, CPPS, chair of the CBPPS Expert Oversight Committee, has written about the importance of certification as a professional milestone that validates the competency of expert patient safety practitioners. Health professionals with expertise in patient safety may serve in many different roles—from providing direct care to teaching, conducting research, or serving as leaders and executives of health organizations. As Dr. Rapala points out, whatever the individual’s focus, “the underlying patient safety concepts are the same. It follows that there is a need for standards by which these diverse patient safety professionals can apply patient safety practices and theories.”


The staff at Edward are among more than 600 professionals across the nation and internationally who have achieved the CPPS credential to date. They represent nurses, physicians, pharmacists, risk managers, and other disciplines in health care.
Certification is one way to build an effective patient safety team. Joanne Abeling, MS, RN, MT (ASCP), CPHQ, CPPS, director of the Center for Clinical Excellence at Edward, said her colleagues felt strongly that anyone working in a patient safety or clinical excellence capacity—a group that largely consists of experienced nurses—should be encouraged to pursue the CPPS credential. Quality and risk professionals, pharmacists, case managers, physicians, and others within the organization have become certified or are preparing to take the CPPS examination.


The reason for such diverse representation was summed up by Mary Anderson, MT (ASCP), CIC, CPHQ, CPPS. “If you’re working in health care, you need to be interested in patient safety and that needs to be your priority,” she said. “You should want to learn and continuously improve your knowledge base. I see a real drive for that here at Edward and in the greater health care community.”


Certification also serves to validate the team’s skill and competency. And some point out that it is simply a good feeling to work for an organization that endorses and recognizes certification in this professional area.


“Certification is important in terms of recognition for areas of expertise, and it lends an element of credibility to the important work we are doing and the difference we are making,” said Dr. Ludwig-Beymer.


For these ASPPS members, achieving certification in patient safety is not an end point. It is a milestone in their drive to continuous learning in an evolving field.


“We are proud of all of the ASPPS members and CPPS certificants for making a commitment to ongoing education and interest in advancing patient safety,” said Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, president of the National Patient Safety Foundation. “The example of Edward Hospital and Health Services demonstrates how vital it is for patient safety to be a team effort.”


To learn more about ASPPS and how to join, visit the member page. To learn more about the CPPS credential, visit

The IHA Connection

Edward Hospital and Health Services is a member of the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) Hospital Engagement Network (HEN), the first such organization to enroll its members in the NPSF Patient Safety Immersion Initiative back in 2012. The initiative has multiple components, and the IHA HEN chose to provide their members access to three NPSF programs deemed relevant to accelerating the HEN’s patient safety efforts. The programs included:
  • A one-year membership in the American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety (ASPPS), the individual member organization of NPSF
  • Access to the self-paced, 10-module NPSF Online Patient Safety Curriculum, a foundational patient safety science educational program, which provides continuing education credits
  • An opportunity to sit for the Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS) examination
Participation in the immersion initiative was initially limited to a certain number of staff at each member organization, but as the IHA HEN grew from 59 to 100 members, it expanded seats in the initiative to allow for greater participation in a comprehensive patient safety program. Over the past two years, more than 300 professionals have participated in the immersion initiative through the IHA HEN, and to date 96 have become certified in patient safety, with many still preparing to sit for the exam.


“The Patient Safety Immersion Initiative has been well received by our members, and the demand for the program has increased since the start,” said Adam Kohlrus, MS, CPHQ, CPPS, director, performance improvement, for IHA and the IHA Institute for Innovations in Care and Quality. “The curriculum, for example, has really created a shared foundational knowledge in patient safety. It gives folks a level of competency that they may not have had the opportunity to get on their own because they don’t have the funding in the hospital settings.”


Participants from Edward cite the breadth of the NPSF Curriculum as one of the program’s strengths. “The opportunity for additional training in the science of patient safety was most helpful to me,” said Mary Anderson, MT (ASCP), CIC, CPHQ, CPPS. “My area of principal responsibility is infection prevention, but this helped broaden my knowledge of patient safety in general.”


The curriculum educates not only about patient safety science, but emphasizes the importance of developing a culture of safety in order to create and sustain safety improvements. Nancy Rosenbery, MJ, RNC-OB, CPHQ, CPPS, said that the cultural and leadership areas of the curriculum were especially relevant “because it fits what we are hoping to achieve and working toward all the time.”


To Jan Decrescenzo, RN, CPPS, one of the chief benefits of the Patient Safety Immersion Initiative was the ASPPS membership component. ASPPS members receive complimentary subscriptions to publications, discounts on webcasts and other continuing education activities, and additional benefits that, cumulatively, exceed the membership dues. “I’ve budgeted for continued membership for our risk managers [beyond the initial one-year term], because I see the importance and how valuable the resources are,” she said.


Individuals and organizations participating in the NPSF programs recognize the importance of staying current as patient safety science continues to evolve. Derek J. Robinson, MD, MBA, FACEP, executive director of the Institute for Innovations in Care and Quality at IHA, said one of the reasons the IHA HEN made this commitment is because “it is imperative to try to sustain improvements in patient safety and quality.


“At our Institute we believe that investments in training and certification for the staff of member hospitals and health systems are an important means to this end,” he said. “The program we have created between our HEN and the NPSF Patient Safety Immersion Initiative is an important example of our effort to hardwire a culture of improvement and safety across Illinois. Edward Hospital is commended for its commitment to safety and quality, for having so many team members achieve the Certified Professional in Patient Safety credential under this program,” he said.


To learn more about the NPSF Patient Safety Immersion Initiative, visit the web page or contact David Coletta.


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