Has the Patient Safety Needle Moved?

Has the Patient Safety Needle Moved?

This post is in memory of Amanda Abbiehl, whose untimely death due to respiratory compromise sparked the creation of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety with the mission to improve patient safety and the quality of patient care.

By Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

I am often asked, “Has the patient safety needle moved?” Moreover, for some reason, that question usually comes from mothers who have lost a loved one. However, I must admit that I also ask myself this question from time to time.

This is a great question, particularly as the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety is ranked internationally as a top-100 patient safety organization (Agilience Authority Index, July 2023).

HHS/AHRQ Study Finds Improvement in Patient Safety 

To answer that question, first let me discuss what’s happening nationally. 

In a recent study published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) assessed approximately 245,000 patients in over 3,100 hospitals between 2010 and 2019. They found that “rates of in-hospital adverse events for healthcare related patient harm fell significantly in the U.S. in the decade prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This improvement came about despite a drop in patient safety following the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. Commented AHRQ Director Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, MHSA, about the study – 

“These study results indicate that we know how to improve patient safety by working together and that we can sustain those results over time,” Valdez added. “The pandemic has undoubtedly put those successes at risk, but this study should provide motivation for healthcare officials to rebuild and rededicate ourselves to a patient and provider safety doctrine.”

What is the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety Doing to Improve Patient Safety?

The follow-up question you might ask is – “So, what is the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety doing to improve patient safety?”

This year, two major efforts have been undertaken by the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety. 

Sepsis Continuing Medical Education

The first major initiative is to improve sepsis care. Sepsis (commonly called “blood poisoning”) is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year in the US:

  • At least 1.7 million adults develop sepsis.
  • 1 out of 3 people that died in a hospital had sepsis during hospitalization or was discharged to hospice care.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sepsis causes 1 out of every 5 deaths. In calling for global action to decrease the incidence of sepsis, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General called for rapid diagnosis and improved treatment of this deadly disease:

“The world must urgently step up efforts to improve data about sepsis so all countries can detect and treat this terrible condition in time. This means strengthening health information systems and ensuring access to rapid diagnostic tools, and quality care including safe and affordable medicines and vaccines.”

To learn more about Sepsis Care, please click here.

At the request of the Global Sepsis Alliance (GSA), the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) accredited 12 of the 16 sessions of the recent 4th World Sepsis Congress. 

GSA and PPAHS invite healthcare professionals, organizations, and patient advocates to join them in promoting sepsis awareness and education worldwide and to earn continuing medical education credits for listening to the Congress Sessions.

World Sepsis Congress CME
Enhanced Respiratory Care Moves the Patient Safety Needle

The second major patient safety initiative is Enhanced Respiratory Care.

The Enhanced Respiratory Care program is based on standards published by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), which achieved liberation rates of 65% (i.e. getting a patient off of mechanical ventilation) and earned national recognition of excellence from the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST). Implemented in 2002 in Tennessee as part of TennCare’s plan to improve enhanced respiratory care quality, this program saw resource utilization rates double from an average of $350 to $700 per day.

The Enhanced Respiratory Care program consists of two facets:

Healthcare facilities that provide long-term care for patients requiring mechanical ventilation are encouraged and invited to apply for Enhanced Respiratory Care Accreditation, by completing and submitting the online form at the bottom of the Accreditation page.

Carl Hinkson quote - Enhanced Respiratory Care


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