When you write about safety, you are sharing good news about your organization’s efforts to prevent harm and save lives.
But isn’t safety kind of…boring? Not when you showcase it with creativity and flair. Patient safety story examples are a great way to build trust and show that your organization is serious about protecting everyone’s well-being.
Hospitals around the country are finding ways to communicate the safety message — on websites, in press releases, on social media, in videos and blogs and even in song (more on that later). Sharing stories about safety can:
- Strengthen your organization’s brand
- Communicate real-life tales about how employees are promoting safety
- Promote new safety initiatives
- Educate patients and families about their role in healthcare safety
- Announce safety-related awards and recognitions your organization has received
Here’s a look at some best practices and patient safety story examples that may inspire you to feature this important topic in your marketing efforts.
1. Go behind the scenes
What is your hospital doing to prevent medical errors, address mistakes and protect patients from harm? Let patients know with a video-based healthcare safety story like this one from UC Davis Health. The video focuses on how daily huddles help UC Davis Medical Center:
- Identify patient safety risks
- Promote open communication about safety
- Keep teams accountable when addressing patient safety concerns
- Support employees who prioritize safety
Pulling back the curtain to tell a story about safety isn’t always pretty. Twenty years ago, two accidental deaths at Johns Hopkins led to a moment of reckoning for the renowned hospital. Johns Hopkins began treating safety like a science, collecting data to find, test and deploy systemic improvements. Today, hospitals around the world have adopted Johns Hopkins safety programs and metrics. Telling the story of this evolution takes a kind of courage that ultimately enhances an organization’s credibility and reputation.
2. Recognize employees who promote safety
Human error is at the heart of many — perhaps most — safety events. The difference between a tragedy and a non-event can come down to small, everyday decisions by people who feel empowered to flag safety concerns. Who are those people in your organization?
NYU Langone shares this patient safety story example about its peer coaching program, which puts safety coaches on the front lines to ensure safer medical and surgical care. This article is effective because it:
- Features a real-life example of how a pharmacist recognized a prescription error and addressed it (at 4:30 a.m., no less)
- Highlights the organization’s “core expectations” for safety
- Talks about the impact of peer coaching on patient outcomes
A similar initiative at Cincinnati Children’s gets its due in this video, in which two nurses, a protective services officer and patient care assistant, share stories about their work as “safety coaches.” The video puts a face on safety and tells viewers that patient well-being is top-of-mind for employees throughout the organization.
Get the latest healthcare content marketing tips and best practices. Subscribe to the WriterGirl newsletter!
3. Make it timely
Unfortunately, patient safety sometimes makes headlines for all the wrong reasons — a preventable death, surgery gone wrong, a lawsuit. In today’s media landscape, it can be challenging to find an audience for feel-good articles about hospital safety.
Cut through the static with newsworthy safety stories when:
- Your organization wins a safety award
- A hospital leader speaks at a safety conference or publishes on the topic
- Your hospital is recognizing National Patient Safety Awareness Week with special events or initiatives
Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia used this strategy after winning the “Conquering COVID” 2021 I AM Patient Safety Award from Pennsylvania’s Patient Safety Authority. In its press release about the award on its website, the hospital embedded a video of the award announcement.
In Fall 2021, all four Mercy hospitals in the St. Louis area earned “A” grades from Leapfrog, a hospital ratings program based exclusively on hospital prevention of medical errors and harm to patients. They announced this achievement on their website, taking time to explain what the grade means and why it’s significant. A Leapfrog grade might not make front page news in your local paper, but they’re certainly worth a little real estate on your website.
Special events such as National Patient Safety Awareness Week provide another opportunity for patient safety stories. The week happens every March and is sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. It’s a chance to highlight your hospital’s efforts to promote patient safety with articles, blog posts and videos around this topic. Last year, University of Iowa Health devoted an entire website to the theme, complete with:
- Daily trivia contests
- Best practice safety videos
- Patient safety handouts
- Links to other resources
While geared toward an employee audience, the site is accessible to anyone through the UI Health blog. The content isn’t flashy, but it does communicate the critical message that patient safety is a priority, not just during National Patient Safety Awareness Week but all year ‘round.
4. Emphasize education
Patients and families often don’t realize their vital role in ensuring safety. It’s essential they speak up when a concern arises, or something doesn’t feel right. Unfortunately, the clinical setting can be intimidating for many of us, and we often hesitate to question a provider. Recognizing this, University of Michigan Health devotes several pages of its Health Library to patient safety. The content covers topics such as:
- What are medical errors?
- What you can do to prevent medical errors
- Preventing errors during surgery
- Preventing errors in the hospital
These resources are a reminder to never take patient safety for granted. And they might just save someone’s life.
5. Use multiple platforms to spread the word
In 2009 Nationwide Children’s in Columbus, Ohio, created the Zero Hero program, which aims to eliminate preventable patient harm. The hospital promotes its efforts on their website, YouTube and an article published by the Children’s Hospital Association. The content includes compelling statistics about Zero Hero’s success — including a 50% reduction in all patient harm events.
6. Say it with humor…if you dare
Safety is no laughing matter. But nurses dancing to the Men in Hats 1982 hit “Safety Dance” — now, that is funny. Check out this epic performance from Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics, which gives handwashing and needle safety the full music video treatment. As one person remarked in the comments section of this video, “I’m officially on the weird, weird side of YouTube.” But I bet they never forget the safe sneezing demo.
Helping your organization build its reputation for safety is a priority, and there’s no need to be boring about it. Remember: a little bit of creativity can go a long way, whether you’re touting an award-winning program or putting on your safety dance shoes.
A content partner for all seasons. The WriterGirl team is ready to tackle a variety of projects for your marketing and communications team — from webpages and video scripts to blog posts and patient success stories. Drop us a line anytime to learn more.
We’d love to learn other insights about how you share patient safety stories. Please share yours with us on Twitter or LinkedIn, or email us at email@example.com.