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Patient Safety Initiatives

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. In the last few years, some progress has been made in reducing the number of preventable deaths by increasing patient safety measures. 

Perhaps the most important shift has been the effort to be proactive rather than reactive. In other words, instead of waiting until there is an error, institutions are trying to develop systems to affirmatively anticipate and avoid harm. Of course, should something unanticipated come up, healthcare providers must be prepared to handle that situation as well. 

MedStar Health uses a PST model - primary, secondary, and tertiary responses – for patient safety. This mindset allowed MedStar to “develop a series of interventions to prevent harms and to effectively address them should a safety lapse occur,” according to Paige Minemyer’s feature story, “Patient harm can be prevented. Here’s how MedStar Health is doing it”.

Changing MedStar’s culture included the following steps:

Furthermore, in the event an error occurs, the protocol is to put the patient’s needs first and resolve the situation, and then to analyze what went wrong, in order to prevent the same event from occurring again.

How Others Are Addressing Patient Safety

Meanwhile, Tina Reed reported that the Patient Safety Movement Foundation has developed a patient safety curriculum for organizations to use when training health professionals. Founded in 2013, with the mission to “help reduce preventable deaths in healthcare,” this organization has focused on identifying specific, actionable steps.

The training encourages health care providers to “take ownership” of their patients’ safety. Once they feel responsible, they more effectively recognize situations where patients are particularly vulnerable, such as during a hospital’s change of shift, and they adjust their behavior accordingly.

Most recently, The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is developing a plan that advocates for better workplace safety. Robert King explains that there is a connection between workplace safety and patient safety.

Healthcare workers experience a high degree of both workplace injuries and violence. They also are subject to burnout. All of these things impact the care that they give patients.

If workers are safer, then patients will be safer. 

All of these efforts are welcome, indeed. But they also remind us that patient safety is not guaranteed. When patient safety is not a top priority, patients get hurt, and this can have devastating effects on the rest of the patient’s life. Lack of patient safety can even cause death. If you or someone you love has experienced a situation where you have been hurt due to a lapse in patient safety, you will need an experienced and successful medical malpractice lawyer to help you. The Eisen Law Firm only handles medical malpractice and wrongful death cases. Please call The Eisen Law Firm at 216-687-0900 or contact us online today.