It's easy to point fingers at others who don't do what they know they're supposed to do.
Why don't those nurses and doctors properly clean their hands when they enter and leave every patient room? Why do some surgeons still maintain an intimidating environment in the operating room? Why do some managers or executives ignore their employees' concerns and ideas?
“No, no, our organization doesn't have these problems, people might say.” Ok, sure.
People know (I hope) at this point that proper hand hygiene reduces hospital acquired infections (HAIs). They should know that better teamwork and respectful behaviors improve safety in the operating room and beyond. Managers know they should listen to their employees and help them improvement. Right?
It's sometimes helpful to be reflective and introspective instead of just trying to figure others out.
For example, why do I walk and read my iPhone while walking through airports and parking lots? I know this isn't really a safe behavior. I've told myself I shouldn't do this. But, I do.
When I visit the Toyota truck plant in San Antonio, they have a few key safety reminders for employees to follow. These include:
- Don't walk with your hands in your pockets (because it's harder to regain your balance if you slip when you're doing this)
- Don't walk and use your phone (texting, reading, etc.)
- Stop at all intersections in the plant (look out for vehicles and others!)
I'd hope that Toyota leaders:
- Lead by example and follow these behaviors themselves
- Respectfully call people out ANY time they see an unsafe behavior (rather than just reacting after an incident)
I know that if I “walk and iPhone,” that I'm increasing my risk of tripping, bumping into somebody, or falling. But, I do it.
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I told myself at the beginning of the year that I shouldn't do this (ah, a dreaded high-failure rate “New Year's resolution). But, I catch myself still doing it.
I have nobody holding me accountable other than myself here. There's no manager or executive watching to correct me or remind me.
I heard a story recently, about a hospital employee who fell and broke her ankle because she was walking and texting.
We hear stories like that, but it's easy to make excuses.
“I'm not that clumsy.”
“I'm very careful.”
“It won't happen to me.”
“I'm too busy, so I have to cut this corner on safety… and the risk is low.”
Those are things I find myself thinking. Those are probably the same things people say when they don't take the time to properly gown up when entering an isolation patient's room. They might think those things when deciding to skip a pre-op checklist because the O.R. is running behind schedule.
“It'll be OK.”
“We'll get away with it.”
“Don't be so obsessed about safety.”
Why don't we do the things we know we're supposed to do?
It's often easier to identify the problem than it is to have a good solution that really works.