Education, progress focus of patient safety week
■ The event gathers momentum as more hospitals get involved in the effort to showcase their advancements.
By Andis Robeznieks — Posted March 8, 2004
Now in its third year, the primary goal of National Patient Safety Awareness Week remains educating the public on the issues of patient safety and medical errors. But another focus of the March 7-13 event is highlighting the progress that's been made since the Institute of Medicine published "To Err is Human" five years ago.
"We're trying to get the word out to patients that errors are happening and they have to protect themselves," said National Patient Safety Foundation board member Ilene Corina, who helped get the awareness week started as an annual event. "It shouldn't just be hospital people talking to hospital people, because they already know errors are happening."
Mark Graber, MD, chief of medical service at Long Island's Northport Veterans Hospital, agreed that educating the public remains a chief focus.
"The general theme is to get patients and health care organizations to think about patient safety and see what they can do about it," he said. "We're trying to get people to think about it before they're a patient."
The week's theme is "Patient Safety: The Power of Partnership," said NPSF Program Administrator Stephanie Hench. She added that the NPSF is sending out tool kits to member hospitals that include posters, buttons and fact sheets on such topics as the role of the patient advocate, what individuals can do to increase patient safety and ways to prevent hospital-acquired infections and medication errors.
Dr. Graber said hospitals are encouraged to use the week to highlight what they've done to increase patient safety. His hospital will hold a patient fair that will publicize how it now uses electronic records and a bar code medication system that "makes sure the right patient is getting the right medication at the right time in the right dose."
He said a survey also is planned to get staff input on what has been done to increase patient safety and what still needs to be done.
Hench said the event seems to be gathering momentum, and Dr. Graber agreed. "Last year, probably several hundred hospitals participated," Dr. Graber said. "This year, we expect several thousand."