I am regularly amazed by medical advancements and innovation in the United States. However, even as we make significant progress in many areas of medicine, there is still much more work to be done in others. One such area is patient safety.
What is Patient Safety?
When we talk about patient safety, we are discussing how hospitals and healthcare organizations protect patients from errors, injuries and infections. Anyone can make a mistake at work, but in healthcare these mistakes can result in serious outcomes. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine released a report that estimated 98,000 deaths per year result from medical examination or treatment. The most recent study in 2013 suggested these numbers could range from 210,000 to 440,000 deaths per year. Many of these deaths result from preventable medical errors. This is inexcusable and shows how much more work our industry still needs to do to improve patient safety.
Making Patient Safety a Priority
Patient Safety is our number one priority at Renown Health. We dedicate a lot of time to establishing, reviewing, and revising our processes to prevent errors. Despite the obvious importance of patient safety, this issue is largely left to individual hospitals and health systems to manage. There is a surprising lack of national attention around this truly important issue.
RELATED: Creating a Culture of Safety
However, a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it is igniting interest in hygiene and infection prevention. Patients want to learn more about the processes that are in place to prevent the spread of infections. In addition to the many protocols that guide our treatment of injuries and illness, Renown Health has implemented the following measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases:
- Requiring everyone entering Renown sites to wear a mask or face covering.
- Establishing new processes to help patients and visitors practice social distancing.
- Limiting the number of visitors in our facilities.
- Screening all employees and patients for symptoms.
- Enhancing our already-thorough cleaning and disinfection processes.
I hope patient safety and infection prevention remain in the national spotlight long after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. The healthcare industry must come together to develop stronger systems and regulations to minimize preventable medical errors. We have a responsibility to our patients to do better.