Achieving dialysis safety: The critical role of higher-functioning teams

Leslie P Wong
Seminars in Dialysis 2019 March 8
The potential for harm from errors and adverse events in dialysis is significant. Achieving a culture of safety in dialysis to reduce the potential harm to patients has been challenging. Recently, improving dialysis safety has been highlighted by Nephrologists Transforming Dialysis Safety (NTDS), a national initiative to eliminate dialysis infections. Other aspects of dialysis safety are important, though less measurable. Approaching dialysis safety from a systematic thinking view helps us to understand the need for leadership and high-functioning teams to deliver safe, reliable care in dialysis facilities. Resilience in healthcare is embodied by strong teamwork-interdependent professionals working together with clarity of goals and communication. This paper reframes the role of dialysis facility medical directors as leaders of these high-functioning teams. Alignment between nephrologists and dialysis management is necessary for these teams to function. This will require nephrologists to embrace their leadership roles as medical directors and for dialysis facility management to provide adequate operational support. The accountability for dialysis safety is shared between the nephrologists and dialysis organizations; coleadership is required for safety culture and high-functioning dialysis teams to develop.

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