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Patient Safety Awareness Week 2018 – March 11-17

According to the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, about 21 percent of Americans report personal experience with medical errors. Medical errors can affect patients in various aspects of their life depending on the severity of the repercussions they cause. The survey conducted by NORC in June, 2017 further claims that, “when errors do occur, they often have lasting impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships”. This has lead researchers to believe, that the public has some issues with our current health care system and the lack of awareness around patient safety. That is why we will participate in Patient Safety Awareness Week on March 11th-17th. The two main themes for this year’s awareness week will be safety culture and patient engagement.

Other issues that were illuminated in the survey revolved around responsibility of safety and reporting errors. About half of the respondents claimed to have gone back to the institution they received care at and reported the medical error they witnessed. The other group that claimed they did not report it expressed that they felt as if it would not make a difference. “‘Making sure patients and families feel that it’s okay to speak up and ask questions is really a critical element in patient safety,’ said Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, Chief Clinical and Safety Officer, IHI.” (PRweb). Gandhi went on to say that even doctors hesitate to claim their own medical errors due to pressure from the institution they are working for.

Keeping in mind our theme of safety culture and patient engagement, there will be two highlighted events sponsored by The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF): “On Monday, March 12, from 1:00 to 2:00 PM Eastern Time, IHI is hosting a complimentary webcast, Engaging Patients and Providers: Speaking Up for Patient Safety. Dr. Gandhi will moderate a panel featuring nationally known experts:

  • Jeff Brady, MD, MPH, Director, Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Tiffany Christensen, Vice President of Experience Innovation, Beryl Institute
  • Gerald Hickson, MD, Senior Vice President, Quality, Safety & Risk Prevention, Joseph C. Ross Chair in Medical Education and Administration, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

The speakers will discuss the importance of speaking up from the perspective of clinicians, staff, and patients and families. The program is offered free of charge, but registration is required.

On Friday, March 16, from 12 Noon to 1:00 pm Eastern Time, IHI (@TheIHI) will host a Twitter Chat: Building a Culture of Safety. Governmental, advocacy, and professional organizations and individuals will share questions, challenges, and strategies to advance a safety culture in health care. All are invited to participate by using the event hashtag #PSAW18.”

IHI is encouraging participants to go to http://www.unitedforpatientsafety.org, where they can take a pledge for patient safety, get ideas for engaging staff and patients, download free resources, order branded materials, or honor a loved one touched by medical harm.

When we take a look back at our survey, we can safely acknowledge that the issue is complex. Respondents were asked what the cause of their medical error was and on average they listed about 7 different factors. One of these factors revolves around the aspect of responsibility. Who is responsible in the case of a medical error? The respondents believe that although it is primarily up to the medical professionals, patients and their families bear some responsibility in that. The intersections of the situation run deep, but with more awareness we can take the first step in being responsible and playing our part in minimizing this issue. Will you take the pledge?

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