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Kremmling: Safety comes first at hospital

Eric Murray " Voice of Your Hospital

I learned about Josie King during a 5 Million Lives seminar in Denver about two years ago.

I attended because it was tied to a grant that helped the hospital purchase the CT Scanner in the Radiology department. The 5M Lives Campaign’s goal is to save lives throughout U.S. hospitals due to medical errors. Improving communications is a key component to the solution.

It was at this seminar that I watched a video of Josie’s mom, Sorrell, addressing the medical staff at one of the nation’s finest medical facilities. She explained what had happened in precise detail with a straight-on, matter of fact tone that asked for commitment to improve.

The video ended and then, silence. Those without tears in their eyes sat motionless with a feeling of having just been stunned.

You see, Sorrel accidentally sat her daughter, Josie, in a bathtub of water that was too hot. She rushed her toddler to the ER with skin burns. Two days later due to lack of water and over-medication Josie died.

The reason: lack of communication between physicians and nurses even though Sorrel frequently reminded health-care professionals that her daughter was, “very thirsty” and “already received a shot of medication.”

This was a clear case of miscommunication among the care providers in Josie’s medical team. They simply weren’t talking effectively to one another as numerous doctors and nurses switched shifts.

The next day I called the Boston foundation and asked to purchase the video for the purpose of showing it at KMHD orientation training. Sorrel also called me to further explain the importance of creating a culture of safety.

I donated the video to the Middle Park Medical Foundation who in turn donated it to KMHD for orientation purposes. I thought it was an excellent resource that would start every new employee off to understanding the gravity and importance of safety in their health care career at KMHD.

Later I took the video to a regular meeting of Public Relations Directors from regional hospitals including Vail, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Craig and others. As President of the organization I politely insisted on playing this video before the meeting began.

I played the video for the group and got the same response I experienced in Denver ” tears and stunned. Many purchased the video for their hospital’s employee orientation as well. Some hospitals didn’t have the budget for it.

Safety isn’t something we necessarily think about when we see a physician, visit an emergency room, have our labs done or have a radiology test taken, but it is certainly something we all expect. Thank goodness KMHD has a strong safety program that creates a culture of safety-minded health-care.

Kremmling Memorial Hospital was honored for its safety newsletter by the Colorado Patient Safety Coalition at its 7th Annual Patient Safety Conference in Denver on Friday.

According to Dr. Don Parsons, retired general surgeon and council member, “We are delighted by the efforts of KMHD in creating a culture of safety through this news letter.”

This frequently published newsletter is directed toward health-care professionals. It is published by Chief Nursing Officer Ellen Parri and by the KMHD Risk Manager Dawn Mathews.

“It’s a model for other Colorado hospitals to follow,” commented Don Parsons, adding that other hospitals will see this recognition and be inspired to create similar cultures.

The things we choose to focus on become a priority. The newsletter at KMHD directs much of that thinking to patient safety.

If you would like to donate a video of The Josie King Story, or if you would like to know more about the safety program at KMHD, please contact me at (970) 724-3165 or ericmurray@kmhd.cc.


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