Iowa Hospital Uses AHRQ Patient Safety Culture Survey to Improve Quality, Patient Safety

Patient Safety
December 2010

Jennie Edmundson Hospital, a 118-bed community hospital in Council Bluffs, Iowa, used information from AHRQ's Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture to support its efforts to improve the quality and safety of health care. The Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture is a tool that hospitals can use to assess their patient safety culture, track changes in patient safety over time, and evaluate the impact of patient safety interventions.

Hospital staff learned about the survey through a two-part Web series that focused on helping hospitals make use of their own results from AHRQ's Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture. The conference was offered as part of an AHRQ Knowledge Transfer project.

Donna Hubbell, RN, Jennie Edmundson's Vice President for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, reports that the hospital administered AHRQ's survey in 2007 and 2009. Hubbell says, "The Web conference series helped us to be more thoughtful and strategic about how to use the survey data in 2009."

Hubbell and her colleagues made presentations to each unit or department that participated in the AHRQ survey-emergency, psychiatric, and general medical-surgery departments; the operating rooms; and the birthing and telemetry units. The presentations included survey data from 2007 and 2009, as well as comparison data from other hospitals. Hubbell and her colleagues then led discussions with each unit about ways to improve performance.

These discussions served as the basis for developing action plans for each unit, which were finalized in 2009. The Web conference series was critical to the hospital's efforts to use the results of the AHRQ survey effectively. Hubbell reflects, "The Web conferences are why we held these meetings. In the past, we sometimes haven't even communicated the results."

According to Hubbell, the telemetry unit was one of the units that did not have high scores on the survey, particularly in the area of handoffs and teamwork. As a result of the presentation of that unit's scores and the discussion about how to improve performance, the organizational development department was tasked with assisting the telemetry unit by leading a series of team-building exercises and programs.

Hubbell notes that the discussions of the survey results also changed perceptions about staffing issues. She notes that historically, staff attributed patient safety problems to the hospital's being short-staffed. She explains, "During these discussions, many participants realized that most of the problems that have arisen in the past were the result of not having the right mix of staff-not because of a lack of staff."

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture
Topics(s): Patient Safety
Geographic Location: Iowa
Implementer: Jennie Edmundson Hospital
Date: 12/01/2010

Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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