Putting it to the test

New exam of­fers cre­den­tials in pa­tient safety field

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE - Mau­reen Mckin­ney

Those who want to test their pa­tientsafety skill set while adding some let­ters af­ter their name will be able to do so start­ing March 5, when a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion board es­tab­lished by the Bos­ton­based Na­tional Pa­tient Safety Foun­da­tion launches its cre­den­tial­ing pro­gram.

Pro­fes­sional cre­den­tial­ing in pa­tient safety is over­due, said Diane Pi­nakiewicz, the foun­da­tion’s pres­i­dent. “It’s been a long time com­ing,” she said. “We’ve been asked for years when pa­tient safety will be rec­og­nized as a le­git­i­mate dis­ci­pline with cre­den­tials at­tached.”

The Cer­ti­fied Pro­fes­sional in Pa­tient Safety ex­am­i­na­tion is a two-hour, mul­ti­ple-choice test that can be taken at any one of 170 lo­ca­tions around the coun­try, Pi­nakiewicz said. The test is rig­or­ous, she added, and cov­ers six do­mains: cul­ture, lead­er­ship, risk iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and anal­y­sis, data man­age­ment and sys­tem de­sign, mit­i­gat­ing risk, and ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences on pa­tient safety.

Cre­den­tial­ing will es­tab­lish a base­line mea­sure of core com­pe­ten­cies and safety-re­lated knowl­edge, she added. “The pur­pose of this is to pro­vide val­i­da­tion of the field and to get ev­ery­one on the same plane.”

The foun­da­tion launched the Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Board for Pro­fes­sion­als in Pa­tient Safety in De­cem­ber 2010, on the same day that the or­ga­ni­za­tion an­nounced the cre­ation of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Pro­fes­sion­als in Pa­tient Safety, a mem­ber­ship group for pro­fes­sion­als in the field.

De­vel­op­ing a new pro­fes­sional cre­den­tial is a long and de­lib­er­ate process, in­volv­ing ex­pert com­mit­tees, sur­veys and an­a­lyt­ics, Pi­nakiewicz said. Though it of­ten takes as long as two years, with the help of vol­un­teers the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion board was able to fast-track it and have the test ready for Pa­tient Safety Aware­ness Week, March 4-10.

The fee to take the test is $325, or $275 for mem­bers of the ASPPS. There’s also a 50ques­tion on­line prac­tice exam, avail­able for $65, that the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion board says can be used to iden­tify “strengths and weak­nesses” prior to sit­ting for the ac­tual exam.

Pi­nakiewicz said pretty much ev­ery­one work­ing in health­care can take the test. “Pa­tient safety is mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary and it’s a team sport,” she said. “Physi­cians, nurses, phar­ma­cists, res­pi­ra­tory ther­a­pists, board mem­bers—ev­ery­one needs to un­der­stand the essence of this work. The test is re­flec­tive of that. You don’t have to be a pa­tient safety of­fi­cer but you do have to have that base­line knowl­edge.”

Dr. Mary Re­ich Cooper, se­nior vice pres­i­dent and chief qual­ity of­fi­cer of the four-hospi­tal Life­span sys­tem in Prov­i­dence, R.I., called the cre­den­tial­ing a great idea and said she be­lieved that clin­i­cians would seek it out.

“I look at the folks who fo­cus on pa­tient safety in our or­ga­ni­za­tion and only a few of them re­side within the for­mal qual­ity struc­ture,” said Cooper, who per­formed some ini­tial screen­ing of some of the test’s ques­tions. “The rest of them are spread out in other ar­eas like am­bu­la­tory care, nurs­ing and phar­macy. We need to train those peo­ple in ba­sic pa­tient safety con­cepts. We need ev­ery­one’s eyes open, and we need them to be able to respond.”

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