What We’ve Learned About COVID-19 So Far

Letter from the Chairman, November 2020

Dear Readers,

The third wave of COVID-19 has hit the United States and most of the world.  What have we learned so far?

Firstly, COVID-19 is very contagious and is spread mainly by droplets/aerosol transmission.  Secondly, there are a number of measures that will protect you and your community: properly-worn face masks, eye protection, social distancing, and washing your hands.  Thirdly, Remdesivir will shorten the course and severity of a COVID-19 infection.

So, the disease is controllable.  Those countries that take COVID-19 precautions seriously, such as crowded Hong Kong, are controlling it successfully.  Hong Kong realized the importance of face masks and social distancing during the SARS outbreak, so they have uniformly taken precautions again during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.  My colleague, a physician at Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, says that currently, they have no COVID-19 patients in the hospital.

In the United States, it is election time. If you are still deciding who to vote for, or even if you have made your choice, challenge your candidates on the issue of Patient Safety.  Educate them on the seriousness and magnitude of the problem, and how the measures published by PSMF will make a tremendous difference on the road to safer health care, saving both lives and money.  What politician could not support a deal like that!

Here at the PSMF, we have just completed our board meetings, which have enthusiastically supported patient safety and healthcare worker safety initiatives around the globe.  We will continue to partner with other safety organizations to extend our message and impact.  We discussed, at our recent meetings, the concept of forming a National Patient Safety Board which operates similarly to the National Transportation Safety Board — as an independent organization dedicated to investigating preventable patient deaths, and publishing the results of their research.  This idea has tremendous support and could convert health care into a High Reliability Organization.

While the next few months may be some of the most challenging months yet in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to stay focused on the goal of reducing patient harm and mortality.  One way to do this is to continue with the best practices to curb the spread of the pandemic virus.  We have the tools to get to the other side of this pandemic, and we will get through this together.

Mike Ramsay, M.D.
Chairman, Patient Safety Movement Foundation
Past President, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, Dallas, TX