How to Solve Our Healthcare Patient Safety Crisis

And a New Resource That Can Help

We have a healthcare crisis of epic proportions – a patient safety crisis. It only came to light in the 1990’s, but its likely existed in all of our healthcare organizations for our entire careers. But so far, we have only made a dent in the problem. Our patients know this and they are afraid, their families are afraid, and when we’re honest with ourselves, many of us worry about being hospitalized in our own organizations.

Here are the sobering statistics:

  • 210,000 to 440,000 people lose their lives each year to medical errors in hospitals, according to research conducted by J. James and published in the Journal of Patient Safety.
  • Medical errors may now rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States; only cardiovascular disease and cancer takes more lives each year.
  • Preventable Adverse Events (PAEs) account for “roughly one-sixth of all deaths that occur in the U.S. each year.
  • More than 1,000 people die every day from preventable accidents in hospitals.
  • Preventable medical errors, in the form of “oops”, errors of omission, complications, readmissions, and avoidable mortality cost the US economy untold billions each year.
  • The average hospitalized patient experiences 1.5 medication errors daily and medication errors are the most common form of error.
  • There are more than 6 million patient injuries per year due to errors.
  • 40 percent of hospitals received a C, D, or F on Leapfrog’s Safety Score.
  • According to the Leapfrog Group, “since Fall 2014, (hospital) performance on safety outcomes – including preventing errors, accidents, and infections – has not significantly improved.”

If you’ve been following my columns in hfm, you may know that I lost my father and grandfather to medical errors. I’ve nearly lost my mom to errors on several occasions.

A New Resource

Because I’m passionate about safety, I’m making every resource I can find on patient safety available on my website

New information will be posted at least three times per week and will include how-to articles, tools, templates, checklists, project plans and a variety of other resources to help you make patient care safer. For instance, yesterday, I shared a dashboard template for total knee replacement (TKR) – the key tool you’ll need to reduce complication rates in TKR patients.

Here’s my current posting schedule:

  • Monday: Periodic updates on VIP quality and safety news.
  • Tuesday: A “how-to” article with implementation tips and tricks
  • Wednesday: A journal article that I’ve written or found that’s timely and relevant
  • Thursday: A new dashboard template
  • Friday: I’ll post the “Safety Tool of the Week.”

Nationally Recognized Safety Experts

I’ve also invited patient safety experts from around the country, including Sue Teman, BSN, RN, CPPS, to contribute her thoughts and successful approaches for reducing medical errors.

My goal is to make this a living library of “how-to information” on patient safety, quality improvement, and the data we need to create best in class healthcare organizations.

At the end of the day, it will take everyone in our institutions to solve this patient safety crisis. I know we can do better, and together, we can make health care much safer for all of our patients.

Please Sign Up to Receive Important Updates

I hope you’ll join me. And if you haven’t already signed up for my newsletter, please do – it will ensure that you never miss any of this important information. You have my word that I will never share your email address with anyone and you can always unsubscribe at anytime.

Question: What is your most difficult patient safety issue right now? Enter your comment below.