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New national action plan aims to reduce medical errors, improve patient safety

by Valerie Dimond, Contributing Reporter | September 16, 2020
Business Affairs Risk Management

• Patient and Family Engagement: The spread of authentic patient and family engagement; the practice of co-designing and co-producing care with patients, families, and care partners to ensure their meaningful partnership in all aspects of care design, delivery, and operations.
• Workforce Safety: The commitment to the safety and fortification of the healthcare workforce as a necessary precondition to advancing patient safety; the need to work toward a unified, total system perspective and approach to eliminate harm to both patients and the workforce.
• Learning Systems: The establishment of networked and continuous learning; forging learning systems within and across health care organizations at the local, regional, and national levels to encourage widespread sharing, learning, and improvement

“With so many competing priorities and requirements that health systems face, it has become difficult to focus on key areas that are foundational for improving across the board,” stated Tejal K. Gandhi, NSC co-chair, IHI senior fellow, and chief safety and transformation officer at Press Ganey. “The Action Plan helps direct attention to these interdependent areas, which have substantial, wide-ranging influence on many aspects of patient safety. Accelerating improvement in each of these areas will mutually support improvement in others and create the fertile soil that allows broader safety initiatives to take root and be cultivated.”

This year’s World Patient Safety Day, organized by the World Health Organization, takes place on September 17 and will focus on workforce safety. The theme recognizes the risks to health and safety that frontline caregivers and workers have faced while taking care of patients before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“IHI joins with the 26 other organizations who have contributed to this National Action Plan and pledges to help healthcare leaders take advantage of the new guidance to catalyze the patient safety agenda and continue to drive meaningful change,” stated Kedar Mate, IHI president and CEO, in a news release. “We urge everyone across health and healthcare to embrace this same pledge, stand with the NSC, and take decisive action to advance these recommendations.”

NSC members maintain that medical errors remain too frequent, and improvement tends to target particular types of harm in isolation from one another, not as part of a total system of safety. Without greater attention to the foundational factors that impact workforce and patient safety, they say more substantial and lasting change is impossible.

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