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Memorial Cancer Institute and LifeWings to Highlight Unique Patient Collaboration at ASTRO Conference

Collierville, Tennessee (PRWEB) September 15, 2013

The Memorial Cancer Institute will showcase their success in implementing crew resource management(CRM) principles to improve patient safety and efficiency at the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting in Atlanta. LifeWings Partners, LLC, a consulting group experienced in helping hospitals implement CRM, assisted Memorial in its efforts.

One of the key principles of CRM is that everyone has the right and responsibility to speak up if they notice something that could compromise patient safety. At Memorial, this practice of calling a halt is referred to as “Delta.” In most medical settings, the sense of hierarchy makes it unlikely for anyone to challenge the actions of the physician in charge. Medical Director Dr. Srinath Sundararaman notes how they overcame this at Memorial: “Empowering each member of the team to speak up requires support from the top and assurance that individuals will not risk their jobs when they challenge a superior on a matter of safety. We have that support within our organization. When ‘Delta’ is uttered, we expect that every member of the team will respectfully stop what he or she is doing so that the issue can be discussed and the correction, or critical clarification, can be made.”

Director John A. Brown, RTT, concurs and adds, “We also empower our patients to speak up and advocate for their own safety. From a patient’s very first visit, we talk to them about our CRM safety protocols such as our cross-checks and scripted handoffs. We urge our patients as well as our staff to call a halt with ‘Delta’ if they have safety concerns. Our mantra is ‘See it. Say it. Fix it.’”

Richard Doss of, LifeWings explained:

“The origin of crew resource management was the aviation and aerospace industries, where poor communication and human error can have disastrous effects. The following principles, based on the best scientific research on high performing teams, have been adapted for hospital settings:

  • Willingness to speak up and stop-the-line, thus reducing the potential to commit errors.
  • Ability of staff to hold peers accountable for their performance, creating a high performance workplace.
  • Elimination of silos and barriers, thus improving communication and teamwork across all clinical functions.”

The specific tools used by Memorial Cancer Institute were developed collaboratively by the staff with the assistance of LifeWings Partners. As John Brown noted: “Crew Training empowered each of us to take responsibility for patient safety. We now have standardized operating procedures. Our team is much more aware, confident, and involved in assuring patient safety than they were before.”

Video of Memorial Cancer Institute interviews:

About LifeWings:

LifeWings Partners, LLC has improved the performance of over 140 hospitals worldwide, creating documented, sustainable improvements in efficiency, reliability, safety, and quality.

Visit or or follow on Twitter @LifeWingsLLC.

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