General Health Apr 13, 2023

Together We Are Better, Stronger, Safer

How UT Health Austin makes patient safety a priority every day

Reviewed by: Miriam Braun, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, CPPS
Written by: Ashley Lawrence

A long-haired woman with teal scrubs and a name badge crossing her arms and smiling near a window.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in every 10 patients who receive clinical care will experience an adverse event, with nearly 50% of those events being preventable. An adverse event occurs when an undesirable clinical outcome, not caused by an underlying disease, prolongs a patient’s hospital stay, causes the patient permanent harm, requires life-saving intervention, or contributes to death. These events can be the result of errors, substandard care, or unexpected complications. Although most adverse events resolve quickly, some have long-term and serious implications on the patient’s health. UT Health Austin’s Quality Care, Patient Safety, and Infection Prevention and Control initiative aims to prevent and reduce risks, errors, and adverse effects associated with healthcare delivery.

“Adverse events are often the result of a lack of knowledge or human error rather than reckless behavior,” explains Miriam Braun, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, CPPS, who serves as the Nurse Manager for Clinical Quality, Patient Safety, and Infection Control. “At UT Health Austin, we are committed to improving the quality of patient care by developing and implementing evidence-based patient safety practices that promote optimal health outcomes. Our goal is to ensure patients are receiving the highest quality of care in the safest healthcare environment possible.”

Ensuring the Highest Quality of Care

At UT Health Austin, our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. We put you, your family, your goals, and your preferences at the center of your care. A care team is built around your specific needs, and working with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. We integrate health and behavioral health services to better understand you as a person, and your care team is here to listen, learn, and communicate with you throughout your treatment to ensure your care always meets your needs. We also collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide you with the highest quality of care and improve patient outcomes.

Learn more about UT Health Austin’s uncompromising commitment to providing world-class specialty care.

<br>Promoting a Culture of Safety

“Safe patient care begins before the patient walks through our doors and continues beyond the completion of the patient’s appointment,” says Braun. “From scheduling through UT Health Austin’s Access Center to the clinic appointment and even post-appointment care, we have systems in place that safeguard patient information as well as automations that make it easy for clinicians and staff to adhere to patient safety principles, including infection prevention and control measures, safe use of medicines, and communication effectiveness.”

At UT Health Austin, patient safety includes:

  • Protecting private patient information
  • Providing effective communication
  • Delivering timely care
  • Minimizing physical, mental, or emotional harm
  • Listening to and applying patient feedback

“Every employee receives education and training around patient safety and patient safety event reporting,” continues Braun. “Event reporting is very important, as it creates awareness on a leadership level and can help identify trends across the organization, allowing us to find solutions to potential process issues before harm occurs to our patients.”

A well-established safety culture is critical to patient safety and improving health outcomes. “In a successful organization, clinical staff feels comfortable speaking up about patient safety, sharing information about changes that can be made to make situations safer moving forward, and developing better processes to ensure the safest and highest quality of patient care can be delivered,” explains Braun. “At UT Health Austin, we promote a strong culture of safety by reporting and openly discussing adverse events, with the goal of establishing and applying systematic changes to prevent future adverse events and improve patient safety and quality of care.”

Implementing Infection Prevention and Control Practices

Infection prevention and control practices prevent or stop the spread of infections in healthcare settings and are essential for achieving safe and high-quality healthcare delivery. Standard infection prevention and control precautions are prevention practices that apply to patient care in all healthcare settings. These practices are designed to protect patients and prevent the spread of infections.

UT Health Austin’s standard infection prevention and control precautions include:

  • Hand hygiene in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations
  • Routine and targeted environmental cleaning and disinfection of contaminated surfaces and medical equipment
  • Injection and medication safety
  • Risk assessments
  • Use of appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, gowns, face masks)
  • Minimizing potential exposures through early detection and management of potentially infectious patients

Improving Health Outcomes

“My many years spent in the patient safety realm have made me more vigilant about the risks associated with healthcare delivery,” shares Braun. “I have learned how important it is to share my thoughts, ideas, and goals for my care with my provider so they can do a better job of taking care of me.”

At UT Health Austin, we value your experience. Patients have an opportunity to share both the positive and negative aspects of their care experience through their post-appointment survey. These surveys allow us to measure various aspects of patient satisfaction and gather constructive feedback to support our efforts to promote patient safety and improve patient care.

To leave feedback regarding your most recent visit to UT Health Austin, click here.

To learn more about UT Health Austin’s Quality Care, Patient Safety, and Infection Prevention and Control initiative, please visit here.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.