Valley Behavioral HealthValley Behavioral Health

by Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

Dr. Todd Thatcher, Chief Medical Officer

March 11th through 21st is National Patient Safety Awareness Week 2018.  An opportunity for America to reflect on the safety of our medical system.  Although we enjoy one of the finest healthcare systems in the world in terms of cutting edge technology, some of our safety statistics are sobering.

Norton’s Bankruptcy Law Advisor reported an estimated $19.5 billion dollars spent each year are attributable to medical errors.  The US Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2009, adverse medical events caused more than 770,000 injuries and deaths at a cost of $5.6 billion.  Data compiled from Medscape surveys of practicing physicians, and from the Centers for Disease Control, rank failure to properly diagnose as the most common reason for malpractice lawsuits.

While these numbers should cause every patient to think carefully about their healthcare choices, they shouldn’t scare us away from care.  Counting medical mistakes is easier than determining your chances of experiencing a medical error, but common experience and reason tell us most people experience great benefit and little harm from healthcare.

At Valley Behavioral Health, we take patient safety very seriously.  Here are steps we take to ensure your treatment in our care is safe and effective.

Who we hire:

We only hire licensed professionals who pass rigorous State background checks and are in good standing with State licensing regulations.  Our interviewing process for clinicians also includes detailed and careful interviewing that assesses a candidate’s knowledge of their field, and the ability to safely administer that knowledge with patients.  Our process is so selective that we only hire about 10% of applicants.

How we train our people once they’re hired:

Landing a clinical job at Valley Behavioral Health is not the end of professional development.  In addition to upholding State standards for continuing education credits, we invest 40 to 80 hours of onboarding training depending on the specialized field.  Medical staff, therapists, and case managers receive 40 hours of classroom instruction in the evidence-based fundamentals of mental health work such as diagnostics, therapeutic alliance, suicide risk assessment, dealing with difficult or dangerous patients, substance abuse, trauma informed care, etc.  APRN’s receive an additional 40 hours of classroom instruction in how to safely and effectively prescribe psychiatric medications.  All staff must pass annual internal testing to ensure skill levels remain high.

Evidence-base care:

Our Chief Medical Officer, Director of Nursing, Senior Director of Clinical Services, and 6 Clinical Directors are dedicated to practicing state-of-the-art care that is evidence-based, safe, and effective.  That team is backed by a fully staffed IT department including data analysts and biostatisticians.  We are using data to help us monitor patient safety and we insist on the highest levels of electronic security to protect that data.  All our systems are HIPAA compliant.  With over 20,000 patients annually, receiving tens of thousands of services a month, we realize the vital role that technology and computers play in helping us keep the quality safety of our care high.

How we supervise staff:

All clinical staff are supervised by seasoned and skilled professionals who ensure a high quality of care is being delivered continually.  They help answer difficult questions, mentor staff to maintain good boundaries with patients, and work to avoid care-giver burnout which can lead to errors in care.

How we safely serve the community:

All our facilities are licensed by Federal and State agencies, that regularly inspect and audit our system.  We have 6 full-time employees in our regulatory oversight department who ensure that we are compliant with safety requirements.

Why we do all this:

Simple.  We want the same high-quality healthcare you do.  After all, we are providers, but sometimes we’re patients too.  Please don’t delay your mental health care.  If you need us, we’re here to provide safe and effective care.  We are inspired by helping others.

Dr. Thatcher
About Dr. Thatcher
Dr. Todd Thatcher has worked at Valley for 8 years and has been the Chief Medical Officer for 5 years. He is triple board certified in forensic psychiatry, general psychiatry, and addiction medicine. Currently, Dr. Thatcher is passionate about high quality training of our employees and generating and tracking as much clinical data as possible to improve processes and procedures for increased ease, accessibility, and ultimately to better serve our clients and provide the best care possible.