The standard you walk past is the standard you accept

Recently, there was news of an unfortunate mishap at a Massachusetts hospital that resulted in a patient having the wrong procedure performed. Needless to say the impact on the patient and his/her family was great. The hospital, or any hospital in this position is impacted as well, faces scrutiny from outside regulatory sources, legal ramifications and potential internal turmoil.

At UMass Memorial Health Care, we have standard processes designed to keep patients safe. Processes like foaming in and foaming out when entering and leaving a patient’s room,foam1-2 using two patient identifiers to assure we have the correct patient before performing tests and giving medications, and following a standard operating room procedure to prevent wrong-side and wrong-patient surgery.

Most of our caregivers follow these important patient safety measures 100 percent of the time, but that’s not good enough. Our patients are depending on us to make sure that 100 percent of our caregivers follow the procedures 100 percent of the time and that will only happen if we hold each other accountable.

Lieutenant General David Morrison, the former chief of army for the Australian Defense Force, famously said, “The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.” We owe it to our patients to help make sure everyone, and I mean everyone, follows our patient safety procedures.

If you are on a team where bad practices or habits are beginning to creep into the team dynamic, have the courage to speak up. Don’t accept anything less than total commitment to the processes and procedures that keep our patients and caregivers safe.


You have the support of this leadership team. Raise your hand and challenge practices that are the result of a break down in process. If you see something that you believe is not right, speak up and continue to advocate for the patient, especially in the operating room where they are most vulnerable. Have the courage to “stop the line” if you are concerned that a patient safety process is not being followed.

Thanks for everything you do to ensure our patients are never harmed by the care intended to help them.



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