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Providers, nurses, and PSAs

By Sarah Horn, CNO, and Joe Stalfire, MD, Chair of the Committee for Professionalism

Collaboration between physicians and nurses is an important part of a patient safety culture. Working together as a unified team provides optimum care and improves outcomes by reducing error and risk.

Did you know that last year (2016) there were 4,478 Patient Safety Alerts (PSAs) submitted?  Of these 4,478 PSAs, 94% (4,208) resulted in identification of a system issue and only 6% (270) were sent to the Medical Staff Peer Review Committee (MPRC) or Committee for Professionalism as peer review referrals to be screened for opportunities to improve patient care. 

Knowing that providers and nurses make up the largest groups of individuals within our healthcare environment and relationships between these two groups is a major determinant of the quality of our healthcare practice environment, Sarah Horn, the Chief Nursing Officer and Dr. Stalfire, Chair of the Committee for Professionalism have teamed up together to promote a collaborative culture. 

One example of how Salem Health is fostering this collaborative culture between providers and nurses is the PSA and conflict resolution process. In total, few PSAs are filed related to a concern between providers and nurses – only about 3 (<1%) out of 373 monthly. The Chief Nursing Officer and the Chair of the Committee for Professionalism have partnered to jointly triage any PSA involving a provider and a nurse. This process ensures that issues raised through PSAs receive thorough follow-up, discussion and dialogue with the parties directly involved before determining whether they need to go before the MPRC or Committee for Professionalism or if a system issue may have been the root cause.

The goal of this effort is to resolve issues or conflicts as close to the moment they occur and as close to the source as possible. As a result of these efforts, many PSAs are resolved through communication with the nurse(s) and provider(s) involved.

The structure of the Committee for Professionalism also nurtures collaboration and open dialogue. The committee is made up of providers and nurse leaders. This is a broad and inclusive approach that promotes teamwork and mutual respect.

When providers and nurses are talking to one another, care and satisfaction increase. That’s why Salem Health is taking this approach to promoting professionalism and collaboration. 

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