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Promoting a Common Language in Patient Safety

The Foundation for Healthy Communities (FHC), an affiliate of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, has a broad mission to promote health initiatives and support health quality efforts in the state. FHC’s programs run the gamut from preventing childhood obesity to promoting hand hygiene in health settings.

So when Greg Vasse, director of the Rural Quality Improvement Network at FHC, learned about the NPSF Patient Safety Immersion Initiative, he thought it would be a valuable benefit for New Hampshire hospitals.

The NPSF Patient Safety Immersion Initiative is a program that combines a one-year membership in the American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety, access to the foundational NPSF Patient Safety Curriculum, and the opportunity to pursue professional certification in patient safety. FHC is taking part in this program through its membership in the Hospital Engagement Network overseen by the Health Research & Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association.

Given the flexible nature of the initiative, FHC chose to structure its participation to emphasize society membership and the curriculum. Since July 2013, FHC has enrolled more than 170 health professionals at 24 hospitals in various components of the initiative. Eventually, Mr. Vasse expects more than 200 health professionals to take part.

"We are hoping that a common understanding and a common language may have an impact to move the needle in patient safety." 
“The goal is participation in every hospital [in New Hampshire],” he says. “We are hoping that a common understanding and a common language may have an impact to move the needle in patient safety.”

Participating hospitals have implemented the program in different ways. One had its entire patient safety committee enroll, whereas another brought together members of the leadership team and the frontline staff to review the curriculum modules together and learn as a group.

“Both models express the need to have a mass of people with the same understanding who can work toward the same goals,” Mr. Vasse says.

“We’re trying to create a level playing field in organizations so there is broad expertise [about patient safety]—not a single department, but spread to clinicians and front line staff,” adds Anne Diefendorf, associate executive director and vice president for quality and patient safety at FHC. “This is also a great way [for participants] to get continuing education and continuing medical education credits in such a way that is appropriate and pertinent no matter what the discipline.”

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