June 24, 2019

Inaugural Palliative Care CUSP

Our Inpatient Palliative Care Unit at Epping Gardens recently kicked-off their Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) meetings.

Dr Alison Giles, Palliative Care Physician and Head of Unit, sees the CUSP as a great problem-solving and team building opportunity.

“CUSP meetings are a great opportunity to get together as a team and problem solve at a grassroots level. We also see it as an opportunity to think about our safety and ensure high quality care for our patients,” she said.

CUSP is a key component of Northern Hospital’s HRO transformation, providing a clinical method for improving patient safety through improved teamwork, communication and fostering clinical best practice.

Initially developed by Johns Hopkins Medicine, CUSP is a methodology establishing clinical teams as centres of local knowledge and shared clinical expertise. As a collaborative network, CUSP meetings focus on clinical communication and awareness of unique patient risks by identifying system defects and potential localised interventions across a range of disciplines.

“It’s a great way to team build because prior to this, we didn’t have an opportunity to gather across multiple disciplines. The team will meet regularly – doctors, nurses, allied health, pharmacy, ward clerks, volunteers, managers – everyone together to brainstorm and problem solve,” Alison added.

Dr Jaclyn Yoong, Palliative Care Consultant/Medical Oncologist, said these meetings can help the team discuss data and results relevant to their patients.

“I think CUSP is a valuable exercise because there are a couple of things that are important from a quality and safety issue, that may not be necessarily transferable between sites. For example, our patient population is different than the acute population. Using these meetings to flag things which are relevant to our specific setting, both geographically and clinically is good,” she said.

Clare McCarthy, Project Manager, said this is Northern Health’s fifth CUSP and there will be more in the future.

“We are currently supporting Respiratory and Neurology/Stroke (Ward 18), Med3/Unit B, Respiratory Outpatients and Unit 1 Broadmeadows CUSPs – and the ICU CUSP is starting next month. Our CUSPs are emerging as effective communities of practice, they’re embracing the method, and their preliminary outcomes are indicating a heightened awareness of safety culture,” she said.

Consistent with international data, Australian research indicates that about one in 10 hospital patients experience a ‘complication of care’, with half of these considered ‘avoidable’. Each episode of patient care occurs in a modern, complex and high-risk environment and involves thousands of people and moving parts.

Avoidable complications arise largely because of failings in communication and culture, rather than individual clinical incompetence or other failings in the chain of medical care.

CUSPs are there to enhance communication across disciplines, increase teamwork and improve patient safety.

CUSP members at Palliative Care Unit, Epping Gardens – both clinical & non-clinical multidisciplinary team members