The West Australian
Hospital staff told to query risky care
Five private hospitals in Perth are introducing a pilot program that encourages staff to challenge colleagues who could be putting patients at risk.
Ramsay Health Care is the first private hospital operator in Australia to introduce the program, which is based on a system developed more than 25 years ago by Vanderbilt University in the US.
The Speak up for Patient Safety program starts at Hollywood and Glengarry private hospitals, Joondalup and Peel health campuses and Attadale rehabilitation hospital on Monday, and will be introduced nationally.
More than 5000 staff, including doctors, have received assertiveness training and information.
Ramsay argues it is not about “dobbing in” colleagues but is designed to make staff more assertive in addressing potentially unsafe behaviour.
The rules apply to senior staff so no one is beyond scrutiny.
The program has two parts, initially encouraging staff to speak up on the spot if they see a colleague acting in a way that could put patients at risk, such as failing to wash their hands.
The second part promotes professional accountability and includes a confidential reporting system so staff can make a report about unsafe behaviour without fear of reprisals.
Some staff have been assigned to receive and act on the reports, while others have been trained to carry out informal “coffee conversations” with their peers to discuss concerns raised.
Ramsay’s operations executive manager for WA Kevin Cass-Ryall said the program had received support from doctors and other staff at the group’s five WA hospitals.
“We already provide good-quality care for patients but we want to improve it even more by providing feedback to staff in a constructive and positive way,” he said.
“What we’re saying is that we’re all human and if you see something happening that may harm a patient you should query it at that time, instead of just assuming the doctor or nurse knows what they’re doing.”