Kent Hospital announced today that it has adopted a "Just Culture" workplace model, echoing a national move by industries that deal with high risk and customer/patient safety. This includes the aviation, locomotive and healthcare industries, just to name a few. The initiative celebrates its one year anniversary this month.
"This is an important transition for Kent Hospital because it allows staff and managers to work together to effectively identify issues in the many systems and processes in place throughout the hospital – from the most simple to the most complex, involving direct patient care. Just Culture is designed to foster an environment of open communication, speaking up without fear of retribution and allowing employees to be part of the many solutions and changes that can make the hospital a much safer and efficient place to work and be cared for," said Sandra L. Coletta, president and CEO.
The adoption of Just Culture at Kent has taken time and continues to be a focal point of staff training and ongoing education. It was implemented in October of 2011 while extensive planning took place in the year preceding.
The basic tenants behind this philosophy are simple. They are broken down into four cornerstones: create a learning culture, create an open and fair culture, design safe systems and manage behavioral choices. The term "Just Culture" refers to a safety-supportive system of shared accountability where institutions are accountable for the systems they have designed and for supporting safe choices of patients, visitors and staff. Staff, in turn, is accountable for the quality of their choices – knowing that no one is perfect but they can strive to make the best possible choices available.
When events arise that point to flaws in the "system" or individual choices, an algorithm, or decision tree is reviewed. This assesses the impact of the event, determining whether, those involved simply made a human error; made a risky choice or behaved recklessly.Maybe there was a problem with the system or process, indicating an opportunity to examine and refine the system. These are key factors in the review process.
David Marx is a systems engineer with a law degree who has dedicated his life to working with businesses nationally to help them protect their customers. He is the author of the book Whack a Mole – The Price We Pay For Expecting Perfection. Kent Hospital worked closely with Mr. Marx in developing and implementing Just Culture at the hospital.
Said Mr. Marx, "Sandy Coletta and her team at Kent Hospital have been inspirational leaders in their adoption of a Just Culture. They are committed to learning from their mistakes, taking every opportunity to improve processes and help their staff do the right things in keeping their patients safe. The entire Kent Hospital team should be commended for its patient safety work."