Residents Make an Impact through Housestaff Safety Councils

You guys can’t imagine how many unnecessary transfusions patients get,” said Dr. Say Salomon, an internal medicine resident at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn. “Transfusing blood is not a good thing. If you asked doctors if they would rather have a blood transfusion or an alternative means to get treatment, most of us would choose to get the alternative instead of blood, so why give our patients what we know might be harmful?”

That’s the question being asked by the Housestaff Safety Council as they tackle the issue of transfusion safety. Are there viable alternatives to blood transfusion, and do residents fully understand those options in order to lower the risk? The HSC is working to ensure that the answer is “yes.”

Woodhull’s Housestaff Safety Council is one in a growing trend among New York City HHC hospitals as residents take strides to improve patient safety and identify breakdowns in the system of care. Residents are on the hospital’s front lines, and many are working to make their voices heard in the ever-present debates over how to enhance care, safety and efficiency.

Dr. Rafael Hernandez, a former CIR Regional Vice President and internal medicine resident at Woodhull, helped initiate Woodhull’s Housestaff Safety Council when he and his colleagues decided that residents needed to have a say in the improvement of patient care.

“It’s really good for the residents, the patients, the hospital,” Dr. Hernandez said. “The administration sees us as allies. They listen to us.”
Woodhull’s Housestaff Safety Council is made up of residents, program directors, patient safety officers, and GME representatives all committed to interdepartmental cooperation towards increased patient safety. For projects such as Project RED (Re-engineered Discharge), an effort to lower readmission rates for patients with heart disease, this cooperation is key.

“Pharmacists know more about medication,” said Dr. Salomon. “Case managers know more about socio-economic factors. Nurses . . . tend to see the patient at the bedside more than we do. Everybody’s involved.” That involvement includes tracking readmission rates, educating patients on heart disease, and scheduling immediate follow-up appointments post-discharge.

“It’s not fair for our patients and our hospitals for us to close our eyes,” said Dr. Hernandez, noting that residents have knowledge of what goes on in their hospitals, ideas for new policies, and the commitment to make changes happen.

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