27 April 2012

Patient Safety Advocates Band Together

Story first appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

Searching for ways to reduce medical errors and keep patients safe?

Look up.

That’s the idea of some patient-safety experts, who will discuss the formation of an independent patient-safety agency modeled on the National Transportation Safety Board, and other strategies to reduce errors at a summit in Washington.  Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers are following the progress of this new agency.

Many of the safety and error-prevention strategies used in aviation are applicable to health care, such as investigating the root causes of accidents and developing programs to reduce fatalities, experts say. One pilot who will share lessons from aviation’s best practices at the summit: is the retired US Airways pilot who coolly brought down stricken Flight 1549 into the Hudson River with no loss of life.

“Surfing the Healthcare Tsunami,” a new patient-safety documentary looking at solutions such as safety protocols for hospitals, will also premier at the summit. The Discovery Channel will show the film on April 28, with repeats over subsequent weeks.  It will feature a prominent actor and patient-safety advocate, whose 12-day old twins received an overdose of heparin, a blood thinner, in a Los Angeles hospital that put them at serious risk, as the Health Blog discussed in 2008.

The concept of an NTSB for health care first surfaced in a report by the Institute of Medicine and has been taken up by patient-safety advocates led by Dr. Charles Denham. He’s chairman of the Texas Medical Institute of Technology, or TMIT, a nonprofit research group that supports development and dissemination of patient-safety practices.

The idea isn’t to create another layer of health-care bureaucracy, or a new federal agency, but a public/private partnership that could be run at minimal cost to taxpayers — perhaps 10 to 25 cents a year per citizen. Consumers are absolutely shocked that that there is no safety entity for hospitals and health care.

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