What is a Serious Safety Event (SSE)?
A Safety Event is a situation where best or expected practice does not occur. If this is followed by serious harm to a patient, then we call it a “Serious Safety Event (SSE)”.
Why We Measure SSER:
When an SSE occurs, we mobilize all our resources to understand what happened, why it happened, and what we can do to try to prevent it from happening again. As a result of these efforts, over time we expect to see fewer and fewer Serious Safety Events. By keeping track of our rate of Serious Safety Events, we can make sure we are improving the safety of our patients, we can compare ourselves to other hospitals, and we can learn from other hospitals on the same Patient Safety journey. Ultimately our goal is to eliminate all Serious Safety Events. That is the basis of our Zero Hero Patient Safety Program.
What we measure:
Each month we record the number of Serious Safety Events that have occurred, if any. Because bigger, busier hospitals might be expected to have more events, we divide the number of events by the number of patient days, so that we can compare hospitals. Then we use the average rate for that month plus the previous 11 months to get a 12 month rolling average.
How we measure:
When an event is identified as a possible SSE, we assign a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) team to thoroughly investigate. An Executive Sponsor from the Office of the CEO oversees the meetings. Assisted by dedicated people from our Quality Improvement Department, experts and leaders from the areas involved with the event review a detailed time line and the results of many hours of interviews of people directly involved with the event. If inappropriate actions come to light or best practices were not followed, the underlying reasons behind those inappropriate actions are determined in order to improve our system. Based on those root causes, recommendations are made that will prevent a repeat of the event.
How are we doing?
When we began to implement our Zero Hero Patient Safety Program in the fall of 2009, we began to see an increase in the SSER. This increase is seen in all hospitals that get serious about patient safety. This is because a focus on safety causes a heightened awareness which results in an increase in reported events. Employees better understand that we want to hear what is happening (good and bad), because we can’t address issues that we don’t know about. So this initial upswing in events is an apparent increase as employees better report all safety related incidents. However, once we reached our peak in early 2010, the SSER has steadily gone down to the point we have seen an 82% decrease. The number of days between SSEs has improved dramatically from every 11 days to current rate (see SSER chart).