LifeWings® Patient Safety Program Implemented

BRUNSWICK, Georgia: Aug. 12, 2008 – Southeast Georgia Health System is the first Health System or hospital in Georgia to implement the revolutionary program LifeWings®—a patient safety training program designed by professional pilots, astronauts, and physicians to eliminate preventable errors in health care institutions. The program has been sited for improving patient safety at such nationally known institutions as Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

According to Amy Wasdin, RN, director of Risk Management, the first phase of team member training is complete and the program has already been rolled out in the Brunswick Campus Maternity Care Center and Surgical Services departments at the Brunswick Campus. “Patient care providers in those areas, including 64 physicians, took the four-hour training sessions as well as teamwork skills workshops,” Wasdin says. “The training will be on-going and we plan on implementing the program System-wide, including our Camden Campus and other facilities.”

LifeWings® Partners LLC was first developed by a former U.S. Navy Top Gun instructor and a commercial airline pilot and specializes in applying aviation-based teamwork training and safety tools in response to a report by the Institute of Medicine in 2000 that highlighted the need for better training in the medical errors and fatalities. The report estimated there are somewhere between 44,000 and 98,000 preventable deaths in the United States annually due to preventable error.

“They take aviation safety principals and apply them to health care situations,” Wasdin says. ‘It teaches you to speak up.’ The program really emphasizes the mantra: See it, Say Fix it. If you see a potential problem you bring it out in the open to everyone’s attention.”

The aviation safety principals used by LifeWings® were put into place in the late 1980s when aviation industry experts and researchers realized that the primary “root cause” of commercial airline crashes was not because of the technical incompetence of pilots and crews, or mechanical failure. Seventy to 80% of fatal accidents were due to teamwork failures among the crew and although new technology in aircraft cockpits seemed to help, each new piece of technology initiated a new source of human error.

“LifeWings® emphasizes a team approach and is allowing us to develop tools and checklists to improve patient safety, efficiency, as well as team member morale,” says T. Wayne Rentz Jr., MD, Brunswick Campus Chief of Staff. “It’s very empowering to a staff member when a physician says to him or her ‘if you see something you think is wrong, I expect you to speak up.’”

The program also stresses red flags to look for that could lead to preventable patient safety mistakes. Wasdin says these red flags include things such as miscommunication, conflicting information, confusion, fatigue, and stress. “We expect to provide the safest environment possible for our patients by following the LifeWings’ program and increase the satisfaction of our team members and physicians,” Wasdin says.

According to the LifeWings® Web site, those are the results health care institutions that are using the program have reported including a ten fold improvement in error rates, a 43% improvement in observed to expected mortality rates, greater employee satisfaction, reduced turnover, 50% reductions in surgical counts errors, and improvements in pre-procedure antibiotic administration. To learn more about LifeWings, visit www.saferpatients.com. For more information about Southeast Georgia Health System, visit www.sghs.com.