A Culture of Safety

For a little more than 12 years, Victoria Curtis (pictured above wearing white jacket) has worked as a nurse in one of the busiest hospitals in South Texas. CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial is the only Level II Trauma Center south of San Antonio.  A Level II Trauma Center is able to initiate definitive care for all injured patients.  So you can imagine what Victoria’s day might look like as she works on the floor of the busy Emergency Department.

Victoria’s love of emergency medicine came when she was in nursing school and did a rotation that introduced her to the practice. She is a nurse who is passionate about getting it right for herself and for her patients.

A good day, she explains, starts when she has a great partner at shift change. “We go through the valuable transition and hand offs of bedside shift reporting, make sure the rooms are free and clear of debris, [bed] rails are up, charts are updated, and the best day forward is one when the cases are challenging.”

Victoria believes part of the personal fulfillment she gets from her career is because of her team which she says leads to a successful culture of patient safety.

“A team approach makes our department safe. That is the heart of why we function so safely,” she explains.  “No one is alone.  We involve security, physicians, admitting, and our spiritual care.  No one can say ‘that’s not my job’.”

Every step in the Emergency Department is one that can have far-reaching consequences. That’s why paying excellent attention to the details matter.

The “Say It Out Loud” safety initiative helps in the effort to leave nothing to chance and reduce incidences of mislabeled blood specimens. Verbalizing, out loud,  the last three digits of a patient’s account number on the ID band, on the patient’s order sheet, on the stickers’ for the vials along with the patient’s name and date of birth is a validation that what is being ordered is correct.

These sorts of safety exercises help protect CHRISTUS patients and reduce harm.

In the United States, more than 100,000 deaths happen every year due to medical errors or preventable conditions. That’s one patient death about every 5 minutes.  Think about it this way–it’s like a jumbo jet crashing and all 275 passengers and crew dying each and every day.

But the good news is that CHRISTUS is committed to preventing this type of risk to patients and has launched the Culture of Patient Safety Survey in all of the regions.

Throughout most of March, the 7th through the 25th, Associates are encouraged to go online through an internal survey and provide their feedback that will further the CHRISTUS commitment to create a highly reliable organization.

The Culture of Patient Safety Survey results help to identify patient safety strengths, as well as identify areas for improvement. For example, results from 2015 Culture of Safety Survey identified “Non-punitive response to error” as an area for improvement.  Associates are now encouraged to know the importance of reporting as a learning opportunity through a voluntary reporting system that emphasizes learning and improving systems of care, a foundation of an informed, safe culture.

Another opportunity identified from the 2015 Survey was “transitions and hand-offs”, prompting CHRISTUS Health’s initiative for bedside shift reporting.

Here’s a look at a recently produced training video meant to help nurses learn how it is done.


A culture of safety is important to CHRISTUS’ front line staff, people like Victoria, who think all departments might find it beneficial that the survey is anonymous.

“This survey gives our administration a take on how people feel. It is a reflection of true feelings that we experience on our shifts and in our environment.  I think every voice has a right to be heard.”