Marin General Hospital on the right path to fix CPOE safety issues

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The cynic in me almost dismissed last week's story about Marin General Hospital nurses who said the Greenbrae, Calif., hospital's computerized physician order entry system is unsafe for patients. There's a shocker, I thought: A business with employees who don't like change.

But at a board meeting, Marin nurse Susan Degan begged to differ. "This is not about resistance to change. It's about accountability," she said. "My most important role is that of patient advocate. I am held accountable when errors are made."

And she's right. As FierceHealthcare reported last month, a survey of hospital C-suite executives and risk managers found that although executives say everyone is responsible for it, half contend nurses "own" patient safety. At the same time, one of the barriers to patient safety that the American International Group Inc., survey identified was lack of communication and coordination and the fact that nurses fear retribution for raising patient safety issues.

Marin CEO Lee Domanico said he's confident that electronic systems are safer than paper-based systems "in spite of the implementation issues" and that it will get "even safer as we gain experience with it and work to fix some of the glitches we've experienced."

Of course he's right, too.

So it's the next steps that will decide whether Marin General Hospital will make its CPOE system safer. It goes beyond training and board meetings and union action. Success will be determined by whether or not nurses and leaders can continue to communicate and work together as a team to improve patient outcomes.

Despite my inner cynic, I see good things ahead for Marin. They're starting with a strong foundation: Nurses who aren't afraid to speak up in defense of patient safety and a leader who has faith in the technology but also recognizes there are problems that need fixing. - Gienna (@Gienna and @FierceHealthIT)

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