SafePAT-Symposium Power-Ups for Patient Safety

On Thursday February 13, the SafePAT-consortium organized their second symposium, entitled ‘Power-Ups for Patient Safety’. The entire day, healthcare professionals, policy makers, students and researchers dedicated their time and energy to optimizing patient safety in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. You should have been there, of course, but just in case you were not, here are highlights of this inspiring day!

Attentively listening to our keynote-speaker.

First, sharing is caring! By sharing errors in patient safety instead of hiding them, we can learn from our mistakes to improve patient safety. An excellent example of this sharing culture was set by Prof. Rolf Roissant and Prof. Hugo van Aken. Both of them shared personal experiences with patient safety errors and explained how they used these experiences to open the discussion on patient safety. Stepping away from blaming and shaming is important. As Dorien Ulenaers from UHasselt later proposed, we could talk about ‘errors’ instead of ‘mistakes’ to emphasize it is not a negative thing to open up. We can learn a lot from aviation, where this is ingrained in the safety culture, explained pilot Sebastian Sieberichs.

RWTH Aachen University giving a workshop.

Second, we cannot underestimate the power of a good standard. We have seen standardization can be very efficient, for example with the European emergency number 112. Prof. van Aken pleaded for standardizing the internal hospital emergency number to 2222 and project partners from RWTH Aachen and CHR Citadelle gave inspiring workshops about the implementation of standardized handover procedures. Furthermore, Sebastian Sieberichs explained the highly structured and standardized risk management systems in aviation as a good example. SafePAT has worked on standardization over the past three years, but there is still a long way to go.

Our SafePAT-members are a good example of team effort!

Third, care is a team effort. Especially in cross-border care, where healthcare professionals from different countries collaborate, it is important to understand differences. In these cases, coming together to discuss experiences and expectations can be helpful to improve communication. Michael Hoven and Daniëlle Verstegen explain how Maastricht University and RWTH Aachen are supporting this with their interactive workshop. Good teamwork requires good communication, and for this, listening is essential. Andrea Lenes and Martin Klasen from RWTH Aachen explain how important it is to separate feelings from facts, which helps to formulate clear messages.

Fourth, the future lies in technology. The Open University of Heerlen impressively demonstrated the possibilities of virtual reality and augmented reality in healthcare, for instance to prepare patients for a surgery and reduce their level of anxiety. In addition, they showed us how they use of multimodal data to improve the training of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This way, healthcare professionals can receive direct feedback when practicing resuscitation. What a time to be alive.

Last, let’s make sure that the patient is in patient safety. Wim Pinxten and Axel Verstrael from the ‘Patient Embassy’ of UHasselt gave an excellent example of how patients should be included in our discussions on quality and safety in healthcare. By sharing stories from a patient perspective with students early in the curriculum, we sensitize our future healthcare professionals to listen to their patients. Eventually, they are the end-user of all our efforts, so why not include them in the process.

We had an inspiring day that left us powered-up for patient safety!