How to Transform Patient Safety Through Evidence-Based Practices

Patient safety has been top-of-mind for me for decades. When I learned of the startling statistics surrounding patient deaths in hospital settings, I knew a change in patient care was imperative.

Recently, I had the opportunity to deliver a keynote at the 5th Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety in Switzerland. It was such an honor to meet and speak with so many leaders and ministers of health who are dedicated to patient safety. During my keynote, “What Needs to be Done to Improve Patient Safety,” I spoke of key processes and self-governing actions that need to take place to improve patient safety in the healthcare system.

Hoping for zero preventable patient deaths isn’t good enough—we must plan for zero patient deaths through evidence-based practices. To properly implement these practices, we need to understand the protocols needed to improve patient safety and where healthcare professionals are failing to understand or follow through on the steps needed. There are two major elements of a sustainable patient safety mission:

  1. Transparency: We must agree on what constitutes preventable medical errors so the errors can be tracked and reported publicly by every hospital. We must also pinpoint the preventable harm that has identifiable solutions.
  2. Aligned Incentives: Performance should be tied to pay. Mandates should be in place for hospital reimbursement, predicated on lower occurrences of medical errors and the implementation of evidence-based practices. This ultimately promotes more humane care.

Reshaping Patient Safety

I, along with the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, envision sustainable patient safety and access to safe and dignified healthcare worldwide. Tragically, over 8,000 preventable patient deaths occur in hospitals every day — and three million patients are estimated to die each year from medical errors globally. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

With the guidance of global patient safety experts, we developed 18 Actionable Patient Safety Solutions and have made them available online, free of charge. Thousands of hospitals globally have committed to zero preventable deaths and, in response to this commitment, have reported approximately 100,000 lives saved year after year.

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation’s programs and services impact more than 100 countries, and approximately 100 healthcare technology companies have signed an Open Data Pledge to share data to assist in identifying errors before they become fatal.

Doctors and nurses want to improve patient safety but need to be empowered to do so. That starts with turning evidence-based practices into standard operating procedures.

Annual Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit

Our foundation hosted its first Patient Safety Science & Technology Summit in 2013, with President Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker. Annually, the summit brings together hospital CEOs and leading clinicians for this transformative event. The 10th Annual World Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit is taking place in Newport Beach, California, from June 1-2, 2023. Patient safety experts will discuss evidence-based solutions to eliminate preventable harm in healthcare settings.

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