Google patient safety and you will receive millions of opportunities to read research, ideas, expectations and statistics. Medical errors are the third leading cause of harm and death in the United States.1The World Health Organization has been bold in their statement that patient safety is a fundamental principle of healthcare.
I stand behind that bold statement.
A Global Effort and My Motivation
I was chair and spoke recently on falls and falls prevention at the World Patient Safety, Science and & Technology Summit. The problem is a costly one. In the U.S. the cost to Medicare alone totaled over $31 billion. Reducing injury from a fall and creating a safety culture to reduce potential falls is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. There is no silver bullet action. It is multi-focal, with continuous analysis.
As I stood before the audience, I found myself pausing for a moment. You see, my aunt died that week from complications associated with a fall. This is the third time in less than three years where patient safety was personal.
Even as a healthcare professional your personal life could still be touched by medical errors, or it might have been already. We are not immune, and it is time for us who are not the patient to engage, and to advance plans to improve safety for patients, like my aunt.
From Principle to Actions
Patient safety doesn’t magically happen. Human biases can influence decisions and output. Complexity can add more chaos to process.
As leaders from around the world came together, the summit’s focus was on how we can achieve zero preventable deaths by 2020. We discussed how patient safety curriculum is being developed. We discussed how to take the concept of Person and Family Engagement from agreed upon principles into practice.
- Talk through the goals of the patient.
- Allow the patient to share their health related preferences.
- Have the tough discussions with the patient and their support system about how they’re managing their health.
Right now this is the strategy from CMS, and it’s a solid start. We can’t just say we’ll improve outcomes. Within my organization, we continue to welcome clinicians to help with creating solutions like prepacked surgical kits or helping to test tools that assist to safely reposition patients. You have to identify your organization’s goals and execute the actions.
Join me in committing to achieving preventable deaths by 2020. Review the Actionable Patient Safety Solutions (APSS) to use as a road map to move your organization forward. Sign the commitment statement and join the movement.
It is time for action. We must take extra steps to change our personal thinking, before you find yourself with a personal story.
As administrators, we can help you identify ways to define patient safety in your organization, recognize national resident safety goals, discuss resident safety challenges, list ways to prevent medical errors, and describe methods to assist the resident.
1. Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US. BMJ 2016;353:i2139.