Image of Alliston Patrick in front of doors
Allison Patrick, an occupational therapist at Toronto Rehab, took matters into her own hands after one of her patients was injured. She escalated the concern and got results, making it safer for everyone. (Photo: UHN)

When an automatic door hit her patient in the head, Allison Patrick, an occupational therapist at Toronto Rehab, said: "enough."

She and her patient were walking through the tunnel between Toronto Rehab and Mount Sinai Hospital to work on his wayfinding abilities, a common cognitive activity for occupational therapists when they are treating patients with memory issues and or perceptual problems.

"The door between the two hospitals opens really quickly," says Allison. "I warned this patient, as I always do, when he went to step towards the door but it caught him in the forehead and cut him above his eye."

​Allison reported the incident, and it was brought forward to the executive site-level safety huddle. The door speed was slowed down immediately, and since the incident a new sensor system has been installed.

'I'm glad it's finally fixed'

"Both doors open now, and at a much slower speed," says Allison. "The doors also detect when someone is within the radius, so they won't close on anyone. I'm glad it's finally fixed, our patients often go through there independently, especially with Druxy's being closed at times on the weekends."

October is Caring Safely Month across UHN.

One of the key elements of Caring Safely, UHN's patient and workplace safety transformation, is embracing safety as a core value. That means everyone across the organization – clinical and non-clinical staff – is committed to improving safety both for one another and the individuals we serve.

That will be accomplished by removing shame and blame from failure, and instead using systems failures as learning opportunities. It's in this way we can move forward together towards our goal of zero preventable harm at UHN.

"We work in a complex environment where safety issues arise and errors can – and do – happen," says Susan Jewell, Senior Vice President and Executive Lead, Toronto Rehab-UHN.

Working together to become safer

"Our goal is to continue to open the lines of communication and encourage staff and patients alike to address these issues so we can work together to become a safer and more reliable organization."

caring safety logo  

Through September and extending until mid-October, Susan, alongside Dr. Gaetan Tardif, Medical Director at Toronto Rehab, will visit 25 teams across the rehabilitation hospital to conduct bi-annual safety walkabouts.  This is an opportunity to connect with employees' in-person to better understand issues around safety and quality, for example equipment and infrastructure needs, team processes, delivery of safe care, and optimizing the safe reintegration of patients back into the community.

Allison says that the incident has made her more vigilant about looking for ways the environment could be made safer.

"Equipment or boxes in the hallway might not seem like a safety hazard for most people, but many patients at Toronto Rehab have visual or perceptual problems which make them more at risk for a potential fall," says Allison. 

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