Fauquier Health Drills Down on Patient Safety

Above: Staff Development instructor Erin Steele works with Progressive Care Unit nurse Alice Berger during an IV pump training session.  

Increasing patient safety and care quality at Fauquier Health

With the ever-present goal of improving the patient experience, the Staff Development team at Fauquier Hospital has increased opportunities for front-line care providers to practice hands-on skills. Through regular skills simulation sessions and quarterly Clinical Education Fairs, clinicians are able to hone their techniques and keep up with fast-paced innovations in their field. 

During monthly skills practice sessions, employees are able to practice high-risk and problem-prone procedures alongside a Staff Development instructor, to review protocols, supplies, and equipment. Instructors answer questions and help to ensure that employees feel confident while they safely provide care. 

Registered nurse Mary Beth Taylor said, “I enjoy the hands-on sessions much better than computer training, and I like the opportunity to ask questions.” 

Denise Starr, RN, agreed, “I prefer hands-on education.” 

Evelyn Smith, RN, likes participating in all-day simulation stations, where nurses can stop by to practice specific skills alongside experts. “I like the flexibility to come and go.”

In addition to practicing clinical skills on a regular basis, nurses are invited to improve their communication with patients through bedside shift report simulations. A bedside shift report is the interaction between nurse and patient that happens during a staff shift change. The nurse coming on duty reviews a patient’s care plan with the patient and any family members, to ensure everyone is on the same page and there are no misunderstandings. 

During these simulations – led by Fauquier Health’s Patient Experience Specialist Chris Drake – a “pretend patient” (often a member of the Fauquier Health Board of Directors or a member of the hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council) participates in the bedside shift report, asking questions and providing feedback. The process helps the nurse understand what a patient is feeling and how to explain complicated medical information in a way the patient can understand. Nurse communication has improved by 20 percent since the hospital implemented bedside shift report simulation.

In addition to serving as refresher for experienced nurses, new employees at Fauquier Health participate in simulations focused on safety and person-centered communication during their orientation as well. The goal – for longtime as well as new nurses – is to use proven, evidence-based techniques to increase patient safety and care quality. ❖

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