Decreasing the Authority Gradient

Penny Rathburn, DO and her colleagues at Bronson Healthcare are encouraging everyone to speak up for patient safety.

Daily team rounds facilitated by the charge nurse that take about 20 minutes for 16 patients help decrease the authority gradient. Improved communication helps ensure physicians, case managers, nurses, pharmacists, and other team members are all oriented toward a common goal—patient safety.

Building transparency, trust, and accountability into team-based care also helps address medical errors. Dr. Rathburn offers an example involving a high fall risk patient. After the patient became tangled and twisted in IV lines, he fell. The nurse that found the patient hesitated to report the incident since one of her colleagues may be blamed for the incident.

Because of the speak-up culture reinforced by team rounds, Dr. Rathburn informed the nurse that the process that led to the incident needs to be documented, instead of solely focusing on personal blame.

This example illustrates how Bronson Healthcare is helping Michigan prioritize patient safety by ensuring health professionals are prepared to work together to collectively increase the state’s care delivery capacity.

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