Hospital board members' views on safety and quality: 6 findings

The majority of hospital board members self-report patient safety and quality are their top-rated strategic priorities, according to a study in the June issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

 The study shares results of a survey of 605 hospital leaders, including 105 board members.

Six findings about board members' views on safety and quality are listed below.

1. Nearly all (95 percent) said their organization's patient safety and quality plan had been shared with them, and 86 percent said the plan is routinely reviewed and referred to during board meetings.

2. Eighty-seven percent said patient safety and quality is discussed at every board meeting, and 85 percent said patient safety events that caused harm are reviewed and discussed at all board patient safety or quality committee meetings.

3. Board members were less likely to say they discussed workplace safety than patient safety at each meeting — just 33 percent said the board reviews a workplace safety dashboard at every board meeting.

4. Just half of board member participants said they compare their facility's quality and patient safety dashboard performance to others in the industry at each meeting.

5. When asked if they and other board members could define 13 patient safety-related terms, every respondent said they could define "falls," while the least-known term was venous thromboembolism, with just 65 percent reporting they could define the term.

6. In another article in the Joint Commission journal commenting on the survey, James Reinertsen, MD, a senior fellow with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, said the results prove more work is needed to help hospital board members grasp the importance of safety and quality.

"[I]t would be a good idea to develop more capable boards, both by recruiting board members with expertise in quality and safety, and by offering all board members the opportunity to ground themselves in serious knowledge of quality and safety concepts and methods," he wrote.

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