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Does Lean Management Improve Patient Safety Culture

The principles of lean management and especially lean safety can be implemented in various industries and businesses. However, the branch where safety culture plays the most significant role is the field of health care. Including the principles of lean management into the safety of the patients is the main research problem of the article “Does Lean Management Improve Patient Safety Culture?” published in 2016 in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology. The authors of the article look into the effects of using lean principles in the area of radiotherapy to improve the patient safety culture. The focus of this paper is to evaluate how the conclusions presented by the authors of the article correspond to the main principles of the lean management.

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The authors use an example of MAASTRO clinic that introduced multiple lean tools into the patient care structure. This change to lean management included engaging employees in the discussion process of the organizational strategy, treating patient safety as a team effort full of small interdependent projects, changing the attitude toward incidents and highlighting the non-punitive response to error (Simons, Houben, Backes, Reijnders, & Jacobs, 2016). The emphasis on teamwork allowed for better communication and promotion of safety. According to Simons et al. (2016), replacement of the old planning system by new technology translated into better feedback from employees. The results of the interviews held by the authors show that the number of incidents decreased and remained stable, while the employees’ desire to continue improving became stronger (Simons et al., 2016). The authors come to the conclusion that the implementation of lean management along with other measures positively affected the patient safety structure.

It becomes apparent from the information in the article that MAASTRO clinic used several lean tools to change the patient care system. Use of these tools can help the clinic to follow the world-class safety culture. First of all, the clear concentration of teamwork is one of the most important points of lean management (Hafey, 2009). Secondly, an introduction to the new ways of problem-solving is also an important lean tool, as it shifts the perspective from punishing the workers for mistakes to focusing on the means to improve the system and prevent further incidents. The next lean tool that was used is the implementation of various tests and workshops that were held in the clinic to spread the information and evaluate the behavior of the staff. Training of the employees resulted in an increased safety awareness (Simons et al., 2016). Metrics that were taken by the clinic also pertain to one of the principles of lean management. The information regarding the number of reported incidents and near misses allowed the clinic to evaluate the situation and present a plan for possible improvements.

Judging by the conclusions from the article, management of MAASTRO clinic successfully introduced the principles of lean management and lean safety into the patient care system. They have used multiple lean tools to achieve a lower rate of reported incidents and higher safety awareness. All in all, the authors of the article specify that the clinic used lean management in combination with other measures of safety. However, it is most likely that the use of new lean tools is what significantly improved the state of patient safety in the clinic. Employee training, advanced problem solving, and data measuring – these lean tools most likely helped MAASTRO clinic to move the awareness of its workers to a new level and bring the clinic’s system closer to world-class safety standards.

References

Hafey, R. (2009). Lean safety: Transforming your safety culture with lean management. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Simons, P., Houben, R., Backes, H., Reijnders, P., & Jacobs, M. (2016). SP-0601: Does lean management improve patient safety culture?. Radiotherapy and Oncology, 119, S287-S288.

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