Nursing Excellence Program Provides Framework for Patient Safety Initiatives

Heather Comak, for HealthLeaders Media , May 5, 2010

However, the investment, time, and resources required are generally found to be worthwhile by organizations that go through the process.

The road to empowerment
Because shared governance is one of the major components of designated organizations, nurses are more than simply encouraged to take part in hospital initiatives. MRP facilities give their nurses the tools and resources they need to create and lead new programs. That empowerment leads to better outcomes for patients and more satisfied staff members.

"[MRP] requires that we have a quality council and that it is staff led," says Theresa Colarusso, RN, BSN, MPA, administrative director for performance improvement and regulatory compliance in the Department of Patient Care at HUMC. "It's wonderful to see how bright, educated, and engaged they are. They really take this to heart, and it's good discussion at the table."

HUMC had success with a patient falls prevention initiative, which is led by a staff nurse. The nurse was part of a larger "champion" group, and through it found her passion for reducing falls, says Claudia Douglas, RN, MA, CNN, APN.C, supervisor of clinical practice affairs and MRP coordinator in the Department of Patient Care at HUMC. The nurse's program has been in place for the past four years, and many efforts around the organization can be attributed to her ability to identify a need and take hold of the resources available.

"Our organization's philosophy from the nursing department of patient care services is to encourage nurses to be leaders, because we're all leaders at the bedside," says Douglas. "Staff nurses in particular are encouraged to be leaders, and the support, resources, education, and time are provided, and the nurse was able to take this to a great level."

Heather Comak is a Managing Editor at HCPro, Inc., where she is the editor of the monthly publication Briefings on Patient Safety, as well as patient safety-related books and audio conferences. She is also is the Assistant Director of the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals. Contact Heather by e-mailing

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