Doing Safety Better: Keeping UCSF Health Radiology Staff Safe to Keep our Patients Safe

Patient Safety Awareness Week is a recognition event held each March, intended to highlight the importance of healthcare safety for our patients. This year, the event will be held March 14-20.

Additional guidelines and procedures were put in place in the department to enhance safety procedures during the pandemic. One new tool to maintain a focus on safety has been our internal clinical newsletter, combined with an existing practice of regular team meetings focused on patient safety. 

It has been almost one year since the first UCSF Health Radiology's internal clinical newsletter was published on March 24, 2020, with the goal to inform and educate frontline staff in the rapidly changing environment of COVID-19. The first newsletter introduced the paper health screening form used at employee entrances, and the early version of the PPE re-use and return-to-work guidelines. Subsequent newsletters introduced new COVID-19 patient scheduling questions in APeX (UCSF's electronic medical record (EMR) system, UCSF's call for mask donations from the community, and information about the newly established UCSF Health Coronavirus website.

Maya Angelou was quoted saying "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." These words personify exactly what staff did to provide a safe environment. The more staff learned about COVID-19 the stronger our teams became to keep patients, families, and co-workers safe.

Ensuring patient and staff safety has truly been a T-E-A-M effort, and we'd like to make note of the following accomplishments:

  • Technology provided valuable tools to maintain a safe environment. The team became proficient with a variety of collaborative, digital tools including Zoom, Conversa, Teams, SmartSheet, MyChart, Tableau and the Color asymptomatic self-testing process to be efficient and safe during staff meetings, huddles, COVID-19 testing and screening, and patient care in the imaging suites. 
  • Evolved with the latest COVID-19 safety protocols and standard work routines. This included having exam, break, offices and reading rooms evaluated to ensure workspaces were safe.
  • Applied new methods to image patients using safety policies reviewed by the UCSF Occupational Health Services (OHS), Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Prevention (HEIP) and the CDC. Staff implemented the safety practices of social distancing, always wearing masks, hand hygiene, and PPE use and re-use guidelines.
  • Maintained a high level of patient care despite the obstacles of the pandemic. Safely celebrated the birth of babies, marriages, retirements, staff birthdays, graduations, and staff recognitions.

Providing exceptional patient care is what our department does well. I join David Sostarich, radiology operations director and Christopher Hess, MD, PhD, department chair, in saluting the resilience and dedication of our teams. Patient Safety Awareness Week is the perfect time to thank our TEAM for doing safety better!

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