This week is New Zealand's national "Let's Talk" Patient Safety Week, coordinated by the Health Quality & Safety Commission.
Patient Safety Week is our Health System's collective commitment to consumers and patients that we continue to strive towards providing the best and safest care possible, every time.
Susan Wood, Canterbury DHB Director Quality and Safety, says that although patient safety is our number one priority all year round, Patient Safety Week is an added opportunity for Canterbury health professionals to focus efforts on achieving the goal of zero harm.
"We have undertaken a number of initiatives to make sure the messages from Patient Safety Week get the attention of our staff, and the general public."
Another important initiative for Patient Safety Week this year has been the support of primary care in getting the zero harm message across. They are, after all, the first point of call for most people. Thanks to the willing cooperation of our PHOs: Pegasus Health, Canterbury Rural PHO and Christchurch PHO, we will be giving advice to more people about the simple things they can do to keep themselves safe.
"We have picked two themes to push in Canterbury, because even a small gain makes a big difference – Hand Hygiene where we have performed well but are still tantalisingly short of the national health target of 80%, and Falls Prevention where our outstanding work in preventing falls in the community has been internationally recognised," Ms Wood says.
"Especially for Patient Safety Week, we have breathed new life into our 'It's okay to ask me' initiative, which as you may recall enlists the help of patient to check whether their health care worker has washed or sanitised their hands. This is a helpful reminder to the clinician, reinforces the importance of clean hands to the patient, and empowers people to take responsibility for ensuring they stay well."
The Falls Prevention messages are also empowering, aimed at people who might be at risk and prompting them to take action on their own behalf and seek advice and assistance from the right people.
Both sets of messages have printed material such as stickers, posters and table talkers and this is where primary care's buy-in is critical, as they will help us ensure the material is displayed where it will be seen and their commitment to the "it's OK to ask me" initiative adds .
"Look out for these colourful messages if you happen to be visiting a general practice or a hospital during Patient Safety Week."
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