JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Mar. 6, 2014) -- Brooke Army Medical Center Department of Nursing was recently awarded the 2013 Department of Defense Patient Safety Award for its abstract submission, "Implementation of an Evidence Patient Based Safety Team to Prevent Falls in Inpatient Medical Units."

The annual DOD Patient Safety Program award recognizes efforts designed to decrease harm and improve the care delivered within the Military Health System. The program focuses on creating a safer patient environment that fosters trust, teamwork and communication by all members of the health team.

The BAMC award validated the importance of effective communication coupled with teamwork and how both are essential in providing high quality care to patients.

"The purpose of this project was to enhance communication and teamwork to decrease the rate of falls in the inpatient care setting," said Army Capt. Gwendolyn Godlock, Patient Safety Officer for Nursing Services/TeamSTEPPS Champion.

"In order to effectively improve the initiative -- a team from all levels of Nursing leadership including the Deputy Commander for Nursing, section supervisors, middle managers, nursing staff and Falls Safety Team implemented a plan using the Evidence Based Practice TeamSTEPPS to help overcome team communication barriers, encourage teamwork, and increase fall patient safety reporting," she said.

"The team leveraged the support of the Center for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry to ensure compliance with EBP guidelines, FOCUS-PDCA methodology, and implementation of innovative strategies," Godlock added.

In order to achieve this goal, the team focused on several strategies to include: re-enforcing team safety huddles; bed alarm education and training; increasing situational awareness regarding patient risk factors for falls using the Johns Hopkins falls scale; post fall intervention checklist; and implementation of falls simulation training.

"The Nursing Services, Patient Safety Coaches are an enthusiastic team that strives to translate, integrate, and apply TeamSTEPPS at the bedside to gain the trust of our patients, their family members, and our fellow team members," said Godlock. "Although falls may not be 100% preventable, we believe that there is a correlation between situational awareness, mutual support, communication, and leadership in decreasing the probability of causing patient harm."

Godlock emphasized the EBP project was most successful because of the leadership engagement and support throughout the development, implementation, and sustainment phases.

"Each of them equally allowed us to be creative, innovative, have fun, and work through our own processes without dictation," she said. "They allowed us to own it, yet hold us accountable for completion. Theodore Roosevelt once said, 'The best Executive is the one who has sense to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.'"

To date, patient safety team continues to respond to falls, complete post fall assessment checklists, and make recommendations, as well as tailor fall prevention interventions based upon best evidence.