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Patient Safety Committee: Common problems found in hospitals

Dr. Sandra KochSandra Koch, MD, District VIII patient safety officer

The Voluntary Review of Quality of Care (VRQC) Program has been visiting hospitals across the country for more than 25 years. The most common problems encountered by the VRQC during these visits are: disruptive physicians; lack of teamwork and compliance with national guidelines; poor communication; and absence of simulation drills and standardization.

If any of these issues are present in your hospital, it’s important to take steps to correct them as soon as possible. Here are some things you can do:

  • Adopt a zero tolerance policy for disruptive behavior. If you have a problem you can’t solve, move quickly to use outside resources
  • Use a program like TeamSTEPPS to improve communication
  • Implement a standardized system of communication such as SBAR (Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation) to reduce miscommunication
  • Conduct multidisciplinary programs, meetings, and drills to foster teamwork. These activities have been shown to improve performance in emergent situations and increase understanding of everyone’s roles. Use them as an opportunity to improve teamwork and communication
  • Standardize care to reduce errors. Start by making sure that everyone working on labor and delivery has been trained in Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development terminology. The Electronic Fetal Monitoring Program on the District VIII website is helpful, quick, and inexpensive
  • Use guidelines to improve outcomes. It’s important to stay current with ACOG publications. New Practice Bulletins, Committee Opinions, and Statements of Policy are featured on the ACOG website homepage in a menu on the left-hand side. Patient safety checklists and VRQC worksheets are also available online

If you would like to learn more about the VRQC program and its resources, email vrqc@acog.org or call 800-266-8043.