Make learning about patient safety fun

It was a "room of horrors" replete with blood (corn syrup plus food coloring) and spiderwebs. And it was the theme of West Valley Medical Center's (ID) patient safety week. The display room was open 24/7 Monday through Friday and available to all staff — from housekeeping to nursing.

The week started with a kick-off party and a video demonstrating the importance of thinking about patient safety, says Tammy J Sanchez, RN, BSN, clinical quality specialist. Sanchez says it brought many in the room to tears. The video, she says, demonstrated "why it's important that we embrace quality in our practices every day and to put a human face to the reason we incorporate patient safety." (To see the video and find out more about the Josie King Foundation, visit quiz was handed out after the video, focused on "errors and what kind of errors are skill-based and rule-based errors and how errors are made. We tried to incorporate a general safety theme into it."

The room was set up to illustrate safety errors, mostly related to the National Patient Safety Goals and risk management. There were things that didn't meet life safety or fire codes. There was a patient with only one patient identifier on the armband. A chart was left open to illustrate a HIPAA violation. "We had a CPR dummy, and we dressed him up and made a scenario. We said, 'You're walking into the room for the first time to see this patient. They were involved in a car accident and they were suicidal' so there were things around the room that you wouldn't want in a suicidal patient's room," she says. Unlabeled medications lay on the patient's bedside. Syringes were just lying around. "We even had a mouse with the mouse trap. We had a lot of fun. We really went to town with it," she says.

Staff had to go through the room and identify as many violations or concerns as they could, and the one who found the most won an iPod. Sanchez says staff were very engaged.

On Tuesday, there were games — Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune. An employee's husband made a model to replicate the Wheel of Fortune board. "We had a whole lobby full of people who were participating in it and with Wheel of Fortune you just guess the letters so people from housekeeping and nutrition services, all of those people were involved without feeling real intimidated about maybe not knowing the National Patient Safety Goals. It just brought a lot of attention to the terminology, and all the words we used had to with the National Patient Safety Goals."

Jeopardy categories included performance improvement & patient safety, leadership & medical staff, misc., environment of care, information management, medication management, and provision of care/infection control.

Staff could win "West Valley bucks" with pictures of administrators — the highest amount, of course, showing the CEO, who "really liked it." Staff could turn in money to enter a prize drawing for MP3 speakers, flash drives, and iTunes gift cards. "We didn't spend a lot of money, but we got some really nice prizes, which also helps people want to play."

On Wednesday, staff were given a word scramble puzzle also highlighting the NPSGs and Joint Commission standards. She also handed out pocket guides of standards that were created.

On Thursday, staff played "Are you smart enough for the surveyor?" And Friday, the drawing was held for the staff member who found the most concerns in the "room of horrors."