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Physicians Insurance Receives Award for Innovation in Patient Safety

The award recognizes the innovative shoulder dystocia simulation training program developed and launched by the risk management team at Physicians Insurance.
September 28, 2012 – Seattle, WA – At its annual meeting in September 2012, the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) awarded the William O. Robertson Patient Safety Award to Physicians Insurance.
Physicians Insurance was recognized for its innovative work in developing simulation training programs around shoulder dystocia, and then launching those programs within urban and rural hospitals. Shoulder dystocia is an obstetrical emergency that is infrequently encountered. This type of emergency requires the best of teamwork for positive outcomes; however, each time the emergency occurs, there is typically a new team of staff and providers working together.

“We’re no stranger to simulation training, but we wanted to take this up a notch,” notes Mary-Lou Misrahy, President and CEO of Physicians Insurance. “As part of our ongoing efforts to provide innovative education for our insureds, we decided to offer simulation training at different institutions in Washington.” The first shoulder dystocia drills were held at Evergreen Hospital. After the initial simulation trainings, additional emergency drills were conducted to reinforce the learning and team-based approach.
Angela Chien, MD, who practices obstetrics and gynecology at Evergreen Women’s Health Center in Bellevue, Washington, noted they had run simulations in the past but they were infrequent events, and not mandatory for staff or providers. That made it difficult to determine if the simulations were making a difference in patient safety. She says that “the first day of simulation with Physicians Insurance felt like Christmas morning” and appreciated having the ability to simulate shoulder dystocia and practice the maneuvers. “For many of our staff, this was their first simulation experience that involved providers and other staff members in addition to a staff member serving as a patient. The response was overwhelmingly positive. It was clear that simulation was something worth doing for every obstetrical emergency.”

Dr. Chien noted that at a recent Patient Safety Summit, drills were touted as one of the best safety practices they have implemented in the last year. Moving forward, they plan to provide mandatory simulation training three times a year, covering every obstetrical emergency at least once during that cycle. And it has made a difference. Says Chien, “Just one week after postpartum hemorrhage drills, I had an actual patient who suffered from significant bleeding after a scheduled Cesarean section. My team worked beautifully and they were confident in their abilities. I utilized a technique I learned in the simulation training. As a team, we were able to save the patient while avoiding more extensive surgery or an ICU admission.”

Given annually to recognize innovative achievements in patient safety, the William O. Robertson award recognizes efforts in the ambulatory setting and promotes broader incorporation of such efforts. A pediatrician and founder and medical director of the Washington Poison Center, Dr. Robertson had been a vocal advocate of patient safety throughout his long, prolific career. Dr. Robertson also had been an active member of the medical staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
About Physicians Insurance
Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company provides medical professional liability insurance coverage to more than 6,700 members in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, in addition to risk management consulting, continuing medical education, and claims administration services. The company, founded in 1981, has grown to be the largest insurer of physicians in Washington State and is rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company*. Physicians Insurance maintains corporate headquarters in Seattle, with regional offices in Spokane, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.

*A.M. Best’s ratings are on a scale from A++ (superior) down to D (poor), with even lower ratings for companies under regulatory supervision or in liquidation.

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