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  • Patient Safety: Human Factors Engineering

  • Quality Video

    Cathy Duquette, PhD, RN, Lifespan's executive vice president of nursing affairs, explains the culture of safety fostered at Rhode Island Hospital and the systems in place to protect patients from adverse outcomes. 
    Watch the video now.

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    Working to Reduce Human Error in Systems and Work Environments

    At Rhode Island Hospital, our staff uses the latest advances in technological systems to monitor our patients' health and to help ensure that they receive the safest quality care. We also strive to ensure that our work environments are designed and kept safe at all times for patients, staff and visitors.

    The systems we have adopted for use at all hospitals, such as the use of the "closed loop" system of medication and other electronic patient records usage, help to keep our patients safe by providing accurate recorded histories and avoiding potential errors that might occur if our doctors and staff relied instead on human memory. This recorded information of patients' conditions, medication usages, and other vital health factors can be viewed and discussed by patients and their health care team. Further safeguards are in place, such as checklists, multiple sign-offs and reviews, and these safeguards also help to prevent errors. Patients play a key role in helping our health care teams to succeed. We encourage patients to make notations as to any changes in their health and to share this information so it can be recorded by their health care teams.

    Workplace Improvements

    We have made significant improvements in our workplace environments, including the intensive care units of our hospitals. The ICU-related complications that pose serious health risks, and have been targeted for improvement, include: central line-associated blood stream infections (CLASBSI), ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) and sepsis (whole-body blood infection). Thanks to training for hospital staff in the science of safety and improvement techniques, many lives have been saved and significant reductions of ICU-related complications state-wide have been reported. Get additional information on this important initiative.

    Rhode Island Hospital is unique in that the maintenance and modernization of all facilities is supervised and conducted by an in-house department of licensed professional designers, architects, mechanical, electrical, fire protection engineers and project managers. At present, 22 highly trained staff experts work together as a team on each project. These staff experts are charged with ensuring that all hospital facilities are designed and engineered properly from the initial design phase through to the finished constructed project. Get more information on specific projects at our hospitals.

    Systems and Processes

    We also work to reduce human error by conducting thorough examinations of all systems at our affiliated hospitals. We take preventive steps in an effort to avoid human error. Some of these include:

    • Conducting failure mode and effects analysis of systems (FMEA) to help us to identify and prevent process problems before they occur.
    • Training staff to recognize potential equipment fallibilities so that operational errors are avoided.
    • Designing systems throughout our hospital for ease of use, reliability and user satisfaction and monitoring them for maximum effectiveness.