The PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) cycle can be of great use in the medical environment, particularly in the context of improving patient safety and ensuring that a facility can treat a larger number of patients at the same time without compromising anything for them. When applied correctly, it can be very beneficial in both the short and the long term, but of course, it’s also not a magical solution that can automatically solve problems.
Applying PDSA to patient safety boils down to realizing the important points of providing patient safety in the first place, and focusing on them in each improvement cycle. The main point of using PDSA in the first place is to introduce solid improvements in the company’s workflow in a certain area, and breaking down patient safety into actionable points like this is therefore an obvious first step.
Verifying the Contents of Checklists
Checklists are still a commonly used tool in many medical environments, and their simplicity combined with their powerful nature make them a prime candidate for improving patient safety. Unfortunately, the way they are actually used in many cases contradicts this idea, and there are many problems with the way checklists are utilized in professional medical environments nowadays.
Keeping a checklist up to date and ensuring that it’s relevant to the facility’s current practices is the most important point to observe, and PDSA is a great way to go about that. Just make sure that you record the results of each cycle for future reference, as it’s not rare for certain parts of a checklist to become retroactively relevant as the technology around you changes.
Improving Long-Term Care and Attention
A big problem for many hospitals is their inability to provide adequate care for patients in the long run. Sometimes issues slip by the radar unexpectedly, and if there is no system in place to verify the status of patients in the long term, you risk letting many of those problems get away and wreak havoc on the health of those that you’re supposed to be caring for.
By using the PDSA cycle, you can verify what’s going on with each patient once they have left your facility’s care, and figure out where problems are occurring most often. After that, you can develop an appropriate course of action to address these issues and ensure that they are kept to a minimum.
Improving Internal Communication Within the Facility
Last but definitely not least, the way your doctors communicate between themselves can play a major role in the safety of your patients, and it’s important to keep that point in check too. PDSA can be of great help here, and it can even help you identify issues related to the way your employees receive orders from higher up above and process them, but it’s important to go about that with a customized implementation of the cycle, addressing the specific issues within your own facility.
Keep in mind that PDSA is just one of the many tools that you can use to improve the way your employees communicate and exchange information, and it’s not the only thing you should apply to the situation if you’re suffering from problems of this type. However, it’s one of the tools that can bring some of the most notable improvements overall, and it’s something with a lot of potential for improving the performance of your facility over the long run, and therefore the safety of your patients.
Patient safety is a multi-sided problem, and sometimes it boils down to factor that don’t seem like they’re within your control, but actually are. When you’re careful about the way you’re using PDSA and you realize the implications behind it, you can see some great results from it in the long run.