Stories about: Quality & Safety

Breaking down language barriers: Strategies for working with LEP families

Doctor sitting down to explain something to a patient with limited English proficiency

Caring for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) is a complex process that challenges clinicians in any setting. Being able to effectively communicate is crucial to ensuring the patient’s well-being and safety. But when this process is hindered by a patient or family’s language barrier, quality of care and patient outcomes could be compromised. Even with the assistance of an interpreter, how can we ensure that LEP patients and families truly understand their education? How much health knowledge and health literacy do they need in order to effectively synthesize and apply everything they learned during an encounter? There are a number of factors to consider. …Read More

A safer way to teach cleft lip surgery

A new cleft lip trainer makes surgery saferIn surgery, as in life, practice makes perfect. But in the case of a cleft lip, practice is tricky, because a mistake can result in permanent scarring or disfigurement of a child’s face. This was the problem Carolyn Rogers-Vizena, MD, a plastic and oral surgeon in the Cleft Lip and Palate Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, brought to the SIMPeds Engineering Studio. She needed a safer hands-on way to teach cleft lip surgery to residents and students.

“Very minute slip-ups can cause scarring that stays with a child as they grow. So as a surgeon it’s hard to let go of the reins and let my trainees take over,” says Rogers-Vizena.

Rogers-Vizena reached out to Andrew Hosmer, Project Manager at SIMPeds Engineering, part of Boston Children’s simulator program. SIMPeds is a collaborative cohort of engineers, doctors, educators, scientists, and business leaders devoted to increasing clinician preparedness through high-fidelity simulation. Hosmer and his fellow engineers spend their days creating “trainers” — highly realistic anatomical replicas that enable providers and students to practice procedures that can’t be learned on live patients.

“Ultimately, we’re in service to the hospital, with a purpose to train and reduce fear,” Hosmer says. …Read More

Reducing cast-saw injuries through simple simulation

cast saw image for notes blog

Casting is a fundamental technique within orthopedics that is used to fix fractures, help patients with deformities, and immobilize a limb after surgery. For a physician, it’s imperative to not only know how to apply the cast appropriately, but also how to remove it safely.

During cast removal, a cast saw can heat up to the point where it injures the patient by burning their skin. This often results in further, expensive clinical care. But more importantly, it is a painful and avoidable injury to the patient.

Donald S. Bae, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center, is the lead author on an article published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery that details how a simple simulation program dramatically reduced cast-saw injuries. …Read More

Do hospital rankings matter?

Sree Bhagwat in the lobby of Boston Children's Hospital.
Bhagwat in the lobby of Boston Children’s Hospital

Everyone who works in health care is familiar with U.S. News and World Report’s annual Best Hospitals rankings. But the methods behind the numbers can seem complex and mysterious, even secretive. What do rankings really tell us about the quality of health care at various institutions? Are they even helpful? Do they impact care?

Sree Bhagwat, a senior marketing analyst at Boston Children’s Hospital who manages the hospital’s data collection and reporting to U.S. News, says “yes.”

“It’s not just about competition,” says Bhagwat. “It’s about improving the standards of health care everywhere. The rankings process reveals important metrics that can drive improvements in national health care. Data points are driven by expert clinicians who serve on the numerous U.S. News committees.”

…Read More