Not In My Hospital! Pioneering Medical Facility Enlists Aerial Aces To Combat Medical Errors

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A multi-year study released on January 9th from the Tufts-New England Medical Center reveals that 92,547 “near misses” or adverse events were reported at 26 hospitals that use electronic error reporting systems. With a mission to eradicate such “near misses” and improve teamwork in its operating rooms, one trend-setting hospital, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), worked with LifeWings Partners LLC, a group of pilots, physicians, and former astronauts, to conduct error-preventing aviation-based teamwork training to more than 600 members of its surgical services team.

A multi-year study released on January 9th from the Tufts-New England Medical Center reveals that 92,547 “near misses” or adverse events were reported at 26 hospitals that use electronic error reporting systems. With a mission to eradicate such “near misses” and improve teamwork in its operating rooms, one trend-setting hospital, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), worked with LifeWings Partners LLC, a group of pilots, physicians, and former astronauts, to conduct error-preventing aviation-based teamwork training to more than 600 members of its surgical services team.

Located in Galveston, TX, UTMB is a multi-facility health system comprised of research facilities, six hospitals, 25 operating rooms, more than 100 campus-based clinics, and 37 community based clinics. The facility accommodates more than 32,000 inpatient visits and 67,000 emergency room visits per year. The UTMB system also consists of a renowned telemedicine program and the University of Texas Heart Center.

UTMB has taken a proactive stance on improving patient safety since the Institute of Medicine released its startling report in 1999 that an estimated 44,000-98,000 people die each year from preventable hospital errors. Within one year of the publication of the report, UTMB responded with a multidisciplinary Healthcare Safety Taskforce to spearhead several different patient safety initiatives.

Last year, the hospital initiated an exhaustive search for the perfect aviation-based teamwork training provider and selected LifeWings Partners LLC because of its success in producing documented results. The LifeWings project began in April, 2005 and involved surgical services personnel and top hospital leadership.

Jennifer Baer, the Senior Director for Outcomes and Performance Improvement, confirms the program’s success in making the surgical teams more effective, noting, “There have been marked changes in the openness to the input of others and the team as well as the willingness to improve current processes in the OR.”

To kick-off the project, LifeWings conducted a Leadership Development Institute for the hospital executive team. The customized leadership training equipped key hospital managers to lead the cultural change the project would entail. Karen Sexton, the Vice President and CEO of UTMB Hospitals and Clinics, attended the leadership training and remarked that the hospital’s success “will be a sure thing as a result of this Institute.”

Richard Clark, Vice President of LifeWings Partners who assisted with the comprehensive project, stated, “UTMB is well-known for having the highest caliber of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. We are happy to be working with an organization practicing true patient-centered care. The surgical services department at UTMB is now even more effective, shows greater levels of teamwork and its patients will reap the rewards of these efforts.”

Aviation-based Crew Resource Management training is gaining popularity in the healthcare field due to the similar stresses that cockpit teams and medical teams endure. Both are in life or death situations, team members are often forced to perform with less than optimal sleep, and both types of teams have historically had an authoritative, vice collaborative, environment. The aviation industry virtually eliminated human factor caused accidents with mandatory and recurrent teamwork training. The principles of this training (improved communication, teamwork, and the use of safety tools such as checklists and protocols) are all being successfully applied to improve patient safety.

About LifeWings Partners LLC

LifeWings Partners LLC was founded by a former U.S. Navy Top Gun instructor and commercial airline pilot. The firm specializes in applying aviation-based teamwork training and safety tools to help healthcare facilities save patient lives and reduce costs. The firm has helped more than 40 facilities nationwide provide better care to their patients. Measurable results are found in many LifeWings initiatives, including one hospital that improved its surgical error rate to better than10 times the national average. The firm also conducts Leadership Development workshops for healthcare executives and leaders.

Contact:

Richard Clark, Vice President, LifeWings Partners LLC

800.290.9314

9198 Crestwyn Hills Drive

Memphis, TN 38125

http://www.SaferPatients.com

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