Great catch, near miss, smart catch—they all mean the same thing: someone protected a patient from harm during care. These healthcare gems happen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by every discipline in every healthcare setting, yet we rarely celebrate them. Why? Because health care is supposed to be safe. We're supposed to be highly reliable. We are supposed to heal and not harm. It's a must.
That's all well and good and entirely true, but these musts should be honored as the heroic involvement they are. A nurse identifies an incorrect order immediately after it was placed, a dietician notices the TPN was mixed at incorrect ratios prior to administration, a pharmacy tech calls the provider to make sure the sound alike drug order was purposeful, an environmental service team member identifies and fixes a door that closes too quickly, a presurgical time-out prevents a wrong-side surgery, the clinic nurse rechecks the patient's trending weight to notice a key-entry error—the list goes on and on and on. It's brilliant and often invisible work.
I've had the honor of working at several facilities that recognize daily smart catches to keep patients safe. That takes everyone recognizing the daily safety work and sharing it with leaders so they can honor it. If you're not accustomed to doing so, it can sometimes be difficult to make the shift because this kind of work happens all day, every day in health care, and pretty much everyone feels like "it's their job." That's true, but it doesn't discount the significance because in our occupations, these smart catches, when left unnoticed, can be fatal.
This week, pay attention to your work and the work of those around you. Try and recognize every smart catch you can - and honor it in some way. If you've never done so, you'll be shocked to see all the safety work happening around each and every day - as well as how difficult it can be to "see" all of this work because it is so prevalent in care.
Does your healthcare system recognize smart catches or near misses?