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SBL Receives Excellence in Employee Safety

May 4, 2018 1:45 p.m.

Moving patients, cleaning floors, adjusting heavy equipment and being exposed to contagious illnesses are all things that could injure an employee at Sarah Bush Lincoln.

Over the years, a focused effort has been made to eliminate employee injuries in a better effort to keep them healthy. The efforts are paying off too.

Sarah Bush Lincoln recently received the Award of Excellence in Employee Safety at the Illinois Risk Management Symposium (IRMS). The award is given annually to an IRMS hospital with the best overall performance in its workers’ compensation program and risk management procedures from the prior year. The award of excellence is a model for other hospitals and reinforces to the winning hospital’s staff the benefits of maintaining a safe work environment.

Sarah Bush Lincoln President & CEO Jerry Esker said, “We are excited to learn about this award and I credit the staff for adhering to our safety practices and being engaged in our Culture of Safety.”

Esker referred to Team Up for Safety, an employee-focused effort to eliminate harm to staff and patients by adopting safety practices and giving employees the voice to speak up when they believe there is a potential issue.

The award was based on several criteria, which included:

  • Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) metric
  • Culture of Safety
  • Patient lifting and handling
  • Workplace Violence team development
  • Reduction of hand-to-hand transfer of sharp instruments

DART is one of the metrics OSHA uses to measure the impacts of workplace injuries. It tracks any worker who suffered a workplace injury or illness that caused them to cease working in their normal capacity. Sarah Bush Lincoln’s DART rate crept up to 3.13 in 2012, but in 2013 and 2015 it had lowered it to 1.50, and in the past three years, the DART rate has averaged at the lowest quartile of all hospitals nationwide.

SBL Vice President of Medical Affairs Jim Hildebrandt, DO, explained that in 2014 Sarah Bush Lincoln developed a Culture of Safety to enhance the quality of patient care as well as reduce employee injuries. Dr. Hildebrandt, who leads the Culture of Safety said, “SBL’s commitment to excellence embraces transparency in its processes and encourages and supports staff in identifying weaknesses where preventable harm might occur.” The 13-member team comprised of employees from across the health system brought a different perspective to safety practices. Since then, all employees receive safety training and ongoing support.

It introduced high reliability leadership methods to set the tone of safety as a core value at Sarah Bush Lincoln. This involves daily meetings (aka Safety Huddle) each morning where each department is present and shares safety incidents from their department – this may involve equipment not being readily available, a security incident in the emergency room, an item stolen or a sample not identified appropriately. This open communication removes barriers that impede team members from performing effectively and take active steps to find and fix the issue before it could lead to patient or employee harm. Members of leadership build and reinforce accountability by building a culture of teamwork, Dr. Hildebrandt said.

He added that in a greater effort to protect its employees, Sarah Bush Lincoln made a significant investment in purchasing new Hercules Patient Re-positioner beds to save nursing staff from the strains associated with frequently repositioning patients in their beds. This investment has not only reduced injuries in the workplace, but also lifted staff morale.

The staff also addressed workplace violence. In 2017, a team of administrators, security personnel, trainers and other key personnel reviewed processes regarding workplace violence, specifically working with the combative or demented patient. The team reviewed the current crisis intervention training and plans to invest in an improved training method involving role-playing and decision-making upon assessments. The team is also currently assessing its computer programming to see if it could identify past experiences to provide a warning to personnel entering the patient’s space.

Lastly, in 2017, another team addressed the rising number of needle-stick incidents. During this discussion, the team developed a continuous communication process to keep staff informed about the dangers of bloodborne pathogens. As a result, a neutral zone has been established to reduce the occurrence of hand-to-hand transfer of sharp instruments, Dr. Hildebrandt said.

For more information about the actions taken to improve the safety of patients and SBL employees, contact Dr. Hildebrandt at 217 258-2525.



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