InterJournal Complex Systems, 900
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [900]
Submission Date: 2004
Modeling Safety Outcomes on Patient Care Units
Author(s): Anita Patil ,Judith Effken ,Kathleen M. Carley ,Ju-Sung Lee

Subject(s): CX.41



In this paper, we describe how we used OrgAhead; a computational program designed for modeling organizations to model patient care units in acute care hospitals. OrgAhead models complex organizations, which change and adapt over time due to restructuring and learning. Specifically, we use OrgAhead to create 32 virtual units, corresponding to 32 actual units, on the basis of data collected for a large research study exploring the impact of workplace characteristics on patient outcomes. Correspondence between virtual and actual units was validated by comparing the performance, measured in terms of patient safety and quality outcomes, for the actual and virtual units. Validation was accomplished using OrgAhead’s static version since the actual unit data were taken at a single point in time. We then set up virtual experiments involving dynamic simulations to find the kinds of changes the unit must undergo to improve its safety and quality outcomes maximally. We will report the results of a pilot study of 6 patient care units in which we used dynamic simulations to generate hypotheses about the specific kinds of interventions managers could initiate that would be expected to improve patient safety and quality outcomes on their units and the relative improvement that would be generated with each intervention. We expect that the data from the virtual units will be helpful to managers in conceptualizing the changes that would effect improvement in their units, prior to implementing them.

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