Accreditation Q-Tip: Communication Safety Tool #1- “I Have a Safety Concern”

By Chandra Farrer

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Why is WCH Implementing Communication Safety Tools?

Effective communication is a recognized safety best practice and an Accreditation standard. It is estimated that communication errors are a major factor in more than 70 per cent of healthcare adverse events. Ineffective communication can contribute to misdiagnoses, treatment errors, delays, re-work, frustration, healthcare worker injury, patient injury, and even death. By promoting a culture that values a workplace where everyone feels safe coming forward and is confident that they will be treated fairly, standardized communication tools help to keep patients and staff safe. Furthermore, a culture of safety allows us to learn and innovate from our errors and make the necessary changes to prevent them from recurring, or to reduce the risks of harm when something does not go as anticipated.

Graphic with the text "Communication safety tools"

Women’s College Hospital is implementing three common Communication Safety Tools applicable to the ambulatory care environment in both clinical and non-clinical work situations:

  1. “I have a safety concern”
  2. SBAR
  3. Teach Back

This week we take a closer look at Communication Safety Tool #1: “I have a safety concern”.

“I have a safety concern” is a phrase used to raise or escalate a safety concern. The statement requests that the listener pause and create a safe space so that both the sender and listener can reflect on the concern together.  It was adapted from similar tools in other settings such as “Stop the Line” and “Speak Up”.  Click here to collect your Q-Tip.

“I have a safety concern” recognizes everyone’s role in creating a culture of safety and aims to empower all staff to act by indicating to others that a moment of reflection is needed to resolve an issue. It can be used by anyone at WCH anytime they want to raise or escalate a safety concern.

Dr. David smiling to the camera

“I have a safety concern enables staff to collectively build a strong patient safety culture” says Dr. David Urbach, MD Vice President and Lead Medical Executive (Interim) & Head, Department of Surgery. “When I hear that phrase, I stop and listen. It signals that a colleague may have seen or become aware of something I haven’t. I know they are looking out for others by identifying a safety concern, no matter how small. In these busy times, effective teamwork and communication are essential.”

This week’s Q-Tip outlines a few key tips for effective use of “I have a safety concern”.  To learn more and see our “I have a safety concern” One Pager that includes graphic illustrations of this tool in action.  Next week, we’ll provide an overview of Communication Safety Tool #2.