Patient Safety Awareness Week

Mar. 13, 2019

This year’s Patient Safety Awareness Week kicks off March 10th through 16, 2019.  Patient Safety Awareness Week is aimed at encouraging everyone to learn more about patient safety and to inspire action to improve the safety of the healthcare system for both patients and healthcare professionals.

Why is Patient Safety so Important?

According to Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, there are over 440,000 preventable errors that occur in hospitals each year.  This statement alone explains why patient safety is so important.

What are Common Threats to Patient Safety?

Some of the most common medical errors that jeopardize patient safety are:

  • Diagnostic errors:  According to the National Academy of Medicine, as many as 5% of patients in outpatient care settings experience diagnostic errors.  This can lead to the patient receiving inappropriate or unnecessary treatment, which can have detrimental consequences.
  • Medication errors:  According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, medication errors are the most common types of errors in both inpatient and outpatient settings.  The wrong drug or wrong dose of a drug can cause significant harm to a patient’s health, including the risk of death.
  • Hospital-acquired infections:  According to the Agency for Healthcare Research, 1 in 31 hospitalized patients acquires an infection.  This can cause longer lengths of stay, complications, worsened outcomes, and even death in patients who acquire a hospital-borne infection.

How Do We Advance Patient Safety?

Knowing patient safety is a major health care related concern, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement recommends widespread adoption of a public health framework. The framework is published as follows:

  • Define the problem and set goals.  Leaders must establish preventable harm as a public health crisis and commit to reducing this harm across the care continuum by establishing a Committee for Patient Safety and an action plan for the prevention of healthcare harm.
  • Coordinate activities across multiple modalities to ensure widespread adoption and evaluation.  Create centralized and coordinated oversight of patient safety and encourage all modalities to work collaboratively to implement the Action Plan.
  • Inform, educate, and empower the community.  Partner with patients and families for the safest care.  Actively engage patients in care and in root cause analysis.
  • Effectively measure and monitor progress at all levels.  Create a common set of objective safety metrics to ensure widespread adoption, evaluation, and accountability
  • Identify causes and interventions that work.
    • Ensure that leaders establish and sustain a culture of safety.
    • Ensure that technology is safe and optimized to improve patient safety.

All of us have been and will continue to be patients in the health care system as will those we love.  Patient care must be monitored so proper precautions and care is delivered safely and with the patient’s best interest in mind.  Successful reduction in patient harm requires coordination and partnership among all of those involved in the care of patients.

Help raise awareness about Patient Safety by posting resources/information about this important topic on social media … help get the word out!

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