Med group takes safety seriously during 'Comedy of Errors'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joe McFadden
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
You're sitting in a dental chair at the clinic waiting to have your teeth examined. Before overcoming your fears of drills and needles, you become distracted by wondering if that exposed, dripping syringe on the counter is meant for you.

You also notice how that jar of cleaning chemicals is placed right next to open medicine vials and think "something is not right." And while you're trying to come up with an explanation for the trash and medical supplies left on the floor, there's seem to be no logical answer for the rubber chicken staring back at you in the doctor's chair.

Fortunately, this is not something you'll ever encounter at the Hurlburt Field clinic, because this was a mock scenario held at the clinic during the 1st Special Operations Medical Group's third annual National Patient Safety Awareness Week March 7-11.

"Everybody's got to know what should be properly placed in the room and how it relates to patient safety," said Col. Keith Paul, 1st Special Operations Dental Squadron commander. "You can have fun during this exercise, but if something's not right, these guys have to know it. And the best part is you're having fun while learning, too."

This year's Patient Safety Awareness Week theme, "Are YOU In?" focused on the importance of being informed, involved and invested in committing to safe health care.

Attention to detail and commitment to excellence is what medical Air Commandos exercise every time they treat Airmen and their families, according to Colonel Paul.

Medical Airmen stepped up to the challenge during staged scenes like the one in the dental clinic during the 'Comedy of Errors' Unsafe Room Contest. Airmen with backgrounds ranging from pediatrics and optometry to behavioral health and medical logistics got to try their eagle eye skills in specialized circumstances in the public health, flight medicine and orthopedic rooms.

Participants had to spot more than 20 errors, including tripping hazards and unsanitary conditions, regardless if the subject was within their expertise or if they had ever been in the room before. And they had to do it all in just 60 seconds.

Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Price, 1st Special Operations Aerospace Medicine Squadron deployment medicine technician, set up an area in orthopedics with wires hanging from the ceiling and unkempt beds, all with the expectation Airmen would be able to point out every mistake.

"This was easy to set up, but there's a reason behind everything we did," Sergeant Price said. "This really makes people more aware of what you're not supposed to do and what to look for when you're preparing a room or walk into your work area. It's really something that will open your eyes, but I ultimately hope people will learn from it and not make these mistakes."

Even those who don't predominantly work in an area with patients in examination rooms and may not be familiar with some work stations had the opportunity take the "Comedy of Errors" challenge, too.

As she tiptoed around trash on the floor and gawked at the floss left hanging in the medical dummy's mouth, Airman 1st Class Amber Morehouse, 1st Special Operations Medical Support Squadron health services apprentice, said she had a better appreciation for what dental technicians do and the quality of work they ensure every day.

"I've never seen a room like this before, because they've always make sure the area's clean and sanitized," Airman Morehouse said. "They take care of my mouth and always do a great job, too."

Although this year's National Patient Safety Week is over and the 'Comedy of Errors' challenge ended, the quiet professionals of the 1st SOMDG always take preempting every potential hazard and safeguarding their patient's wellbeing very seriously.

"This was a very creative way of highlighting what could potentially go wrong by seeing it and reinforces that we don't do it," said Lt. Col. Chetan Kharod, 1st SOAMDS commander. "It's a message that sometimes sounds mundane, but it's quite important that we do it right. And I'm also happy to say that I've been a patient here twice and never seen anything like this at all."