Senior executive adopt-a-work unit: a model for safety improvement

Jt Comm J Qual Saf. 2004 Feb;30(2):59-68. doi: 10.1016/s1549-3741(04)30007-9.


Background: At The Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH), the patient safety committee created a safety program that focused on encouraging staff in selected units to identify and eliminate potential errors in the patient care environment. As part of this program, senior hospital executives each adopted an intensive care unit and worked with the unit staff to identify issues and to empower staff to address safety issues. JHH PATIENT SAFETY PROGRAM: The program consisted of eight steps, which together require six months for implementation: (1) conduct a culture survey; (2) educate staff on the science of safety; (3) identify staff safety concerns through a staff safety survey; (4) implement the senior executive adopt-a-work unit program; (5) implement improvements; (6-7) document results, share stories, and disseminate results; and (8) resurvey staff.

Results: The senior executive adopt-a-work unit program was successful in identifying and eliminating hazards to patient safety and in creating a culture of safety.

Discussion: The program can be broadly implemented. The keys to program success are the active role of an executive advocate and staff's willingness to openly discuss safety issues on the units. Regular meetings between the advocates and the units have provided a forum for enhancing executive awareness, increasing staff confidence and trust in executive involvement, and swiftly and effectively addressing areas of potential patient harm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Baltimore
  • Hospitals, University / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration
  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Models, Organizational*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Innovation*
  • Personnel, Hospital
  • Power, Psychological
  • Safety Management / standards*
  • United States