Carol manages the hospital’s phlebotomy services and is a role model for all the phlebotomists and advocate for the patients at our facility. Our patients are primarily pediatric and require special care. During her morning huddles, Carol reminds her fellow caregivers about the importance of their job to patient safety and satisfaction. She has diligently built a team of skilled phlebotomists and lab assistants who are fully aware that the work they do is critical to ensuring quality testing results. Carol tracks phlebotomy procedures to look for opportunities to improve. Recently, she noticed a varying potassium levels for the same patients within a short period of time. She immediately talked to the phlebotomists who performed those draws and observed their processes. She found that two new phlebotomists did not collect tubes in the proper order and the patients’ potassium levels were artificially bumped up. Immediately, she instructed those staff on the importance of collecting in the proper order. Fortunately, no direct patient harm was caused through those errors, but what she did will prevent future errors, especially for patients scheduled for surgery who actually have a low potassium level and could suffer serious consequences if the surgery was performed. Carol’s investment in training phlebotomists has helped prevent errors and patient injuries and created a culture where frontline staff feel valued and understand their role in promoting optimal patient outcomes. That is a huge win for patients and staff.
John is the supervisor for our hospital’s microbiology laboratory. He started out as a tech eight years ago and was promoted to supervisor in 2013. When John first took on the supervisor role, staff morale was suffering because of turnover and demands from clinicians to decrease the time to result. John jumped in right away and by using knowledge from his own experience at the bench and talking to staff found unnecessary steps in the workflow that resulted in inefficiencies and re-work. He mapped out the process of blood culturing and found redundancies. He applied LEAN principles to develop a standardized streamlined process and trained all staff to this process. The results of John’s problem-solving mindset are numerous. We now have streamlined processes that make us more efficient and reduces waste and cost. This increased productivity has allowed the micro lab to increase throughput with improved time to result. Staff satisfaction has also increased. Prior to implementing these changes, only 58% of micro staff said they were very satisfied with their job. A year later, this rose to 77%.