Patient Care People

Patient Safety Team: Building on shared responsibility

Patient safety and clinical quality is the highest priority within the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University, according to Patient Safety Officer John Chi, MD.

As evidenced by regular mandatory departmental quality improvement/morbidity and mortality (QI/MM) conferences and the resident core curriculum in patient safety, the department is committed to patient safety and quality improvement.  These efforts include a robust program for monitoring and assessing safety and quality metrics and improvement. 

headshot of John Chi
John Chi, MD, MPHS

Attended by all faculty, fellows and residents, the monthly QI/MM conference serves as the major communication and learning platform for all topics related to patient safety and quality. Dr. Chi and Patient Safety Coordinator Jan Zerega, RN, organize and moderate the conference.

As patient safety officer, Dr. Chi’s responsibilities include leading all patient safety quality improvement (PSQI) efforts within the department and coordinating these efforts with the school of medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJH) and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. These efforts fall into the domains of clinical care, education of trainees and faculty, and research. He collaborates with BJH patient safety and other Washington University departments in all reviewable events and root cause analysis meetings. He also provides feedback to faculty, fellows, residents and staff regarding safety initiatives, changes and improvements.

Jan Zerega, RN

Zerega manages the Event Reporting System (ERS) and helps to review, investigate and analyze patient safety events. She also helps organize monthly QI/MM and case discussion meetings and educates operating room staff on patient safety and emergency procedures.

With a focus on improvement, patient safety has been an evolving effort for many years. Recent enhancements to the department’s program include:

  • Expanding the case discussion team to include three head and neck surgeons (Jose Zevallos, MD, MPH, Jason Rich, MD, and Ryan Jackson, MD), Dr. Chi , Judith Lieu, MD, and Molly Huston, MD.
  • Holding monthly meetings with BJH Quality to review the department’s readmission, mortality, clinical documentation, and patient safety score metrics.  This team now includes Drs. Rich and Jackson and many BJH partners.  These metrics are reported back to the department at monthly QI/MM meetings.
  • Joseph Bradley, MD, serving as director for the Tracheostomy Committee at BJH which reviews all safety events related to tracheostomies and total laryngectomy patients.
  • Several faculty serving on additional task forces to address patient safety and quality improvement plans.
  • Expanding our PSQI core curriculum for residents to include presentations of their PSQI projects and lectures on World Health Organization patient safety principles. 
  •  Including PSQI education for the department during the monthly QI/MM conference.

Improving patient safety is obviously a community effort, according to Dr. Chi.

“Our patient safety and quality improvement efforts have been successful largely due to support from the physician leadership and the partnership with our nursing leaders,” he said.