quality improvement and patient safety toolkit header
Marcie Hopkins, U of U Health
GME Value – Quality Improvement & Patient Safety Toolkit
From the simple to the complex, problems plague our daily work. Quality Improvement experts Luca Boi and Ryan Murphy provide brief lessons and resources covering important problem solving techniques so you can develop solutions and make improvements.

About this content

What this content is: a collection of articles and PowerPoint presentations that provide new improvers (people interested in problem solving and process improvement) with an introduction to the problem solving framework for addressing simple and complex problems.

What this content is not: a comprehensive compendium for quality improvement. There are other resources available to understand the history and application of quality improvement principles and tools.

The objective for these lessons is to walk you step-by-step through a simple (PDSA) or complex problem as defined in the lessons.

How it works

Read the linked handouts and articles. Each handout and article has been selected because it provides a basic explanation and application of a problem solving principle or tool.

Watch the PowerPoint presentation recordings and videos. These short presentations provide definitions and explanations on how and why to use the problem solving framework.

Practice by doing. Using the material provided to guide you, follow each step to address a problem of your choosing. Only by doing can you really begin to understand how the problem solving framework is a guide for better, structured, quality improvement.


  1. Identify the problem solving framework and its role in quality improvement
  2. Discuss why writing a clear problem statement is the first step in starting a quality improvement project



Practice: Write a problem statement for a problem you would like to solve


  1. Summarize why and how the baseline analysis step reinforces your problem statement and provides clarity and direction for your quality improvement project
  2. Describe 3 simple and easy methods for collecting baseline data, and how sterile processing and nutrition care use data to provide high quality service


Watch: Conducting a Baseline Analysis (6 min.)

Practice: create a process map, a fishbone diagram, or plot a run chart/histogram for the problem you would like to solve


  1. Demonstrate how identifying and prioritizing the most likely causes of the problem will help support how to address the problem
  2. Illustrate how to create a simple fishbone diagram, and how asking why 5 times can be used to discover causes of a problem
  3. Discover how root cause analysis is used in reducing patient harm and promoting a culture of safety

Read: Accelerate Article - Fishbone Diagram: A Tool to Organize a Problem's Cause and Effect (2 min.)

Watch: Investigation and Root Cause Analysis (8 min.) 


Practice: Develop  a fishbone diagram for the problem you would like to solve


  1. Define how to develop a strong intervention (the change you will make that aims at solving the problem) by addressing the causes you identified in the previous step
  2. Compare commonly used practices and tools used to reduce variation and process improvement



Practice: Illustrate how you will address the problem you would like to solve, what change you will make and how you will implement it


  1. Interpert how data is used to determine if the change you made was successful in solving the problem
  2. Describe how to set goals for your project by using the SMART acronym
  3. Discuss how organizations use a simple, one page document to help track a quality improvement project progress and report out




  • Formulate a SMART goal to help you assess the success of your intervention
  • Compile a Project Summary A3 for your project (use included template, or one of your choosing)

For questions please contact Luca Boi at luca.boi@hsc.utah.edu.

Originally published November 18, 2021


Luca Boi

Senior Value Engineer, University of Utah Health

Ryan Murphy

Hospitalist and Associate Editor, Accelerate, University of Utah Health

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