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Safety time-outs

Our goal: Make Wichita the safest place in U.S. for medical procedures

Via Christi is implementing a standard safety time-out protocol before all surgeries and other invasive procedures as part of a community-wide effort to make Wichita the safest place in the nation to undergo surgery and other procedures.

The new time-out protocol was developed by Via Christi clinicians in collaboration with the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, Wesley Medical Center, Kansas Heart Hospital and other healthcare organizations. Studies have shown that a standard and effective surgical time-out can reduce mortality by 44 percent by preventing errors such as wrong-site surgeries and operating room fires.

The collaborative Wichita-wide project was initiated by Dr. Randall Morgan, chair of the Quality Subcommittee of Via Christi’s Clinical Practice Committee, and Via Christi’s surgical care Performance Improvement Team.

Ruth Hommertzheim, Via Christi’s clinical process reliability coordinator, played a major role in developing the new protocol in collaboration with quality leaders from Wesley Medical Center and Kansas Heart Hospital.  

The new time-out procedure was launched at a meeting March 17, 2014, at the Kansas Leadership Center that was attended by more than 100 physicians, nurses, other clinicians and administrators from most of Wichita’s healthcare organizations. 

The collaborative team of clinicians who developed the protocol created a toolkit that surgical leaders can use to help implement the new procedures. Two time-out training videos also were produced by Via Christi’s Communications team to educate clinicians on the new procedures.   

Dr. Donna Sweet, president of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, praised the healthcare systems for putting aside competition to advance patient safety. Jon Rosell, the society’s executive director, said reaching agreement on the standard time-out protocol among competing entities “shows the power of collaboration and cooperation.”

Historically, each hospital and facility has implemented safety protocols unique to the specific organization. But in Wichita, most surgeons practice in more than one organization and have had to comply with varied timeout protocols, depending on where they were operating, thereby creating an unreliable process and increasing the risk of error.

“There is no partisanship in this effort or any that involve patient care,” said Dr. Morgan, an OB-GYN physician at Associates in Women’s Health. “We have an obligation to elevate the care in all of our organizations.”

Hugh Tappan, CEO of Wesley Medical Center, and Jeff Korsmo, president and CEO of Via Christi, agreed. 

“Every patient wants and deserves flawless surgical outcomes,” Tappan said.

Korsmo said he hopes that, in the future, the group of leaders would gather again to celebrate  Wichita having become “the safest place to receive surgical care in the United States.”

More video

Time-out news conference