As so many things in life, my patient safety involvement with Children’s happened by accident. I was asked if I wanted to sit on the Quality & Safety Committee of the Board about five years ago. I was thinking “why not?” It was something new for me to get involved with. I did notice that the on-boarding process was a little different than many of my other commitments at Children’s. I had to do two in-person interviews as well as go through a formal parent training. It was the first time Children’s decided to engage parents at the board level. It was a big deal for the hospital.
During my interview process, I got to meet the hospital’s Chief Quality Officer. I instantly liked how passionate he was about engaging parents in the hospital’s work and his openness about patient safety. Yes, I was a little intimidated in the first couple of board meetings. I needed to find my place in the board room, realizing we were only two people in the room who could truly give the perspective of the children in the hospital - my partner in crime Maureen and I.
Over the past five years, I have been a board member, participating in patient safety projects, and presenting on the topic of patient safety at several hospital conferences. I have a strong belief that the hospital will not be able to eliminate patient safety errors without engaging parents. Sitting on committees and presenting is great for awareness and education, but will only take the hospital so far. To truly make this happening, patient safety needs to become a partnership between the hospital staff and families in each hospital room every day. How do you do that? As with so many things, it comes down to communication, education, and collaboration. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are moving in the right direction.
Last year, we also started to get invitations to local and national conferences to present "Children’s patient safety strategy from board to bedside". Children’s Chief Quality Officer is a smart guy. Rather than telling the story himself, he started inviting us parents to present with him. He was walking the talk. It even got me a trip to San Francisco and the Children’s Hospital Association’s conference. In June after we once again presented our strategy, we realized we had never told the story to our own board at Children’s. This month, it was time for the Board to hear our story. We got a lot of positive feedback. You know that feeling when you know you are part of change, positive change? It's a good feeling.
The hospital leadership is willing to take parent engagement to the next level. We know that the hospital won’t get to zero patient safety errors without engaging families. And why is this important? Because no child should have to endure harm that can be prevented. The hospital should be a safe place. It’s also personal. Having spent too many days in the hospital, I see how easy an error can happen, and errors have happened to Jacob. This is real. This is important. And positive change is happening!
Children's Hospital Colorado won the American Hospital Association McKesson Quest Quality Award this year partly due to their Patient and Parent Engagement strategy.