National Patient Safety Awareness Week 2024 Focuses on ‘Safer Together’

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Surgical facilities across the country are gearing up to participate in Patient Safety Awareness Week from March 10-16.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a nonprofit that has provided training sessions, advisory services and conferences internationally since 1991, works with medical systems to create events and campaigns to recognize the week by highlighting current healthcare safety practices that work. The intent of the week’s activities is to spark discussions on more that can be done.

There is no more critical issue in health care than patient and staff safety, which IHI says is a public health concern and cites The World Health Organization’s estimate that medical errors are a leading cause of death in the U.S. around the world. In the U.S., medical harm results in 250,000 to 400,000 deaths per year, says the IHI, including an oft-cited study from Johns Hopkins University.

In past years, facilities across the country worked with IHI on Patient Safety Awareness Week activities that included banners at entrances, educational displays, suggestion boxes, safety competitions and interactive talks.

Brian Bizub, chief executive officer at Raleigh Orthopaedic in North Carolina, told Outpatient Surgery Magazine that patient safety efforts should never be relegated to a policy that winds up being a shelf document gathering dust. The issue is a moral obligation for providers. “It should be a topic of conversation discussed regularly,” he says.

Patient safety begins by gathering historical information from the patient, their family members, and with all levels of healthcare professionals, says Mr. Bizub. Facilities should also look at every incident report to identify safety concerns and find solutions that prevent them from happening again. Patient safety committees are beneficial to keep practices such as procedural time outs a top priority and keep safety top of mind among staff and leadership.

“Patient safety assists in comporting with our duty to provide care in accordance with regulations and standards,” notes Mr. Bizub. “Disregarding patient safety almost ensures an adverse event and harm not only to the patient, but possible reputational harm to the physician/practice as well as pecuniary loss.”

The nonprofit Center for Patient Safety (CPS) says the Safer Together theme its experts chose for 2024 emphasizes the importance of teamwide safety — from patients and their families to providers and support staff. “For effective, safe care, we must be able to provide care in a kind and collaborative environment,” says the CPS. OSM

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