Dr. Subrata Chakravarty Discusses the Role of Patient Safety and Monitoring
Hospitals and healthcare organizations have a responsibility to prevent harm to patients under their care. That is the most basic definition of patient safety, and by harm here we mean accidents, infections, errors or injuries. Unfortunately, many hospitals fall short of that obligation and thousands of patients die every year due to negligence and errors that are easily preventable.
Dr. Subrata Chakravarty, with his long experience working as Staff Anesthesiologist with AHS, considers patient safety as one of the top priorities of every hospital or organization. “The onus of patient safety is on everyone, not just the healthcare professionals alone,” Dr. Chakravarty says. “To achieve an error-free environment, we need to take into account all the major players in the healthcare system from organizations to professionals and the patients themselves.”
The Mindset of Patient Safety
Patient safety is more than just a buzzword. It’s not even an attitude. Rather, it’s a collective and conscious choice to enforce safety regulations and prevent harm to patients. In other words, it’s a mindset. The best way to get everyone to have this patient safety mindset is to make sure they follow clearly defined best practices. It’s not about convincing the nurses and physicians that they’re doing it wrong. It’s about ensuring they’re following procedure and sticking to the safety guidelines.
What happens when mistakes occur? Especially when the errors are unintentional? Should we point fingers and look for a scapegoat? That’s where the organization’s mindset comes in. Rather than blaming an individual, Subrata Chakravarty believes that the focus should be on finding the flaw in the system that led to such a medical error. A learning organization is the one intent on collecting information, analyzing errors, and making changes to the system to prevent such mistakes from recurring.
Promoting a Culture of Safety
For a hospital or healthcare organization to show that it is serious about patient safety, certain concrete steps need to be implemented. For example, someone with both experience and seniority in the organization can get the responsibility of monitoring patient safety and report to management about the organization’s adherence to safety measures in its daily activities. Other local safety monitors need to be designated to help decentralize safety accountability.
Integrating patient safety into the culture of the hospital means it has to be one of the pillar goals of the hospital. Along with other goals such as finance, people, quality, and growth, patient safety needs to be a goal that everyone actively seeks to achieve. It is more about promoting a culture of safety rather than sticking a few notes on the notice board. It’s about having patient safety front and center in the mission statement of the organization, states Dr. Chakravarty.
Passing Patient Safety Laws
As Dr. Subrata Chakravarty puts it, sometimes it takes a tragic incident to enforce the passing of a much-needed piece of legislation. The Lewis Blackman Act, named after a 15-year-old patient in South Carolina, is one such example. After his death due to various factors including human error, lack of experience, and misdiagnosis, the law was passed to prevent such fatal errors from happening again. A prominent provision of the law mandated the presence of a mechanism that allows patients to get quick assistance at any time of the day or night. The law also made it imperative for nurses to call the attending physician at the request of the patient whenever they ask for one. To make it easier for patients to get prompt help, all health staff, trainees, students, and interns would have to wear badges that state their name and position. That way the patient can easily identify a staff member and seek help when they need it.