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Patient Safety Needs a Rescue

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, May 26, 2011

Reviewing the findings of HealthLeaders Media's intelligence report, the Drive to Patient Safety  one gets the sense that top health executives definitely want to steer in the right direction in terms of patient safety. But they also need to get in a faster lane.

Indeed, the survey shows that putting patient safety is among their top priorities, with 91% of the respondents saying it is a key concern. It is an area that health systems seek to be accountable for, says Bertine McKenna, COO of the Bassett Healthcare Network, in Cooperstown, NY, who reviewed the findings.

"That's definitely good news and shows a significant step in the right direction for many healthcare leaders," McKenna says.


Intelligence Report: The Drive to Patient Safety: Free Download.


But there are legitimate concerns over the health leaders' responses about communication and leadership structures tied to formulating patient safety plans. Those don't look good. They are issues that can significantly slow down the patient safety process.

Healthleaders acknowledged in the survey that communication is a potential stumbling block for improved patient safety initiatives as well as an area of risk to patient safety during transition of care.

About 49% of respondents said communication issues were among their strongest concerns. Moreover,  an alarming 56% of survey respondents said that important patient information "sometimes" is lost during shift changes. Another 12% said it "often happens," while  27% said it is a "rare occurrence"

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Comments are moderated. Please be patient.

1 comments on "Patient Safety Needs a Rescue"


Phyllis Kritek, RN, PhD (5/27/2011 at 9:48 AM)
Since the late 80s we have had a steadily expanding data set that documents patient safety is shaped by our ability as health care providers to collaborate. It has seemed to me that we have elected to use the euphemism of "communication" to avoid the evidence that our failure to collaborate and our tendency to avoid or deny conflict is jeopardizing patient safety. We have elected to tinker with what I call the "low hanging fruit" of patient safety in an effort to skirt the elephant in the room: we sustain our dysfunctional relationships in spite of the evidence that they harm patients. I would observe that recommending that we "stop blaming poor communication and leadership structures and get to work laying out a strategy to secure patient safety" is a continuation of this same avoidance pattern in what has now become a meme in health care. If poor communication and leadership structures are putting our patients at risk, wouldn't the obvious recommendation be that we honestly confront our communication patterns and our problematic leadership structures and FIX THEM? Isn't that the work we need to do and the strategy we have not yet crafted.