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This chapter describes the efforts of a team of health care workers to make a sub-acute health care facility (SCF) serving profoundly damaged children into a high…
This chapter describes the efforts of a team of health care workers to make a sub-acute health care facility (SCF) serving profoundly damaged children into a high reliability organization (HRO). To obtain this goal, the health care team implemented change in four behavioral areas: (1) risk awareness and acknowledgment; (2) defining care; (3) how to think and make decisions; and (4) information flow. The team focused on five reliability enhancement issues that emerged from previous research on banking institutions: (1) process auditing; (2) the reward system; (3) quality degradation; (4) risk awareness and acknowledgment; and (5) command and control. These HRO processes emerged from the change effort. Three additional HRO processes also emerged: high trust, and building a high reliability culture based on values and on beliefs. This case demonstrates that HRO processes can reduce costs, improve safety, and aid in developing new markets. Other experiences in implementing high reliability processes show that each organization must tailor make processes to its own situation (e.g. BP, U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazards Board, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Navy Aviation Program, and Kaiser Permanente Health Care System). Just as in the flexibility called for in organizing for high reliability operations, flexibility is called for in deciding which HRO processes work in specific situations.