The Pennsylvania House Designates March as Patient Safety Awareness Month

For almost two decades, healthcare professionals have been celebrating Patient Safety Awareness Week in March, sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. But the Pennsylvania legislature has just raised the bar by devoting the entire month to this important issue.

“Patient Safety Awareness Month serves as a dedicated time and platform for growing awareness about patient safety and recognizing the work already being done,” stated Representative Dan Frankel, lead sponsor for the resolution. “Our goal is to ensure that no medical care ever makes a patient worse.”

Frankel shared a story about a 67-year-old woman who was admitted to a teaching hospital to have a cerebral angiography performed. After the procedure, staff returned her to the wrong patient room, on a different floor from hers. The next morning, instead of being discharged as planned, she underwent an unscheduled open-heart surgery. After she had been on the operating table for over an hour, her physician called and asked what they were doing with his patient. Once the medical team realized their mistake, they canceled the procedure and returned the woman to her room in stable condition; however, the potential consequences of the extra surgery include significantly increased risks of heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding, and infections.

“Each day brings new technologies and new protocols designed to keep people from being harmed,” said Regina Hoffman, executive director of the Patient Safety Authority. “But the system is far from perfect, and devastating events still occur. As healthcare continues to evolve, so must the systems and measures that identify new and emerging risks. Increasing the awareness level is a necessary step in this journey.”

The Patient Safety Authority, an independent state agency, is another groundbreaking achievement for the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to require that healthcare facilities report all patient safety events, whether they cause harm or not. Since the Authority was established in 2004, it has received more than 3.6 million event reports, and provided education and training to more than 73,000 healthcare providers.

This resolution reaffirms Pennsylvania’s commitment to improving healthcare and is a clarion call to policymakers throughout the nation to make patient safety a top priority.

The Authority’s mission is to improve the quality of healthcare in Pennsylvania by collecting and analyzing patient safety information, developing solutions to patient safety issues, and sharing this information through education and collaboration. Its vision is safe healthcare for all patients.

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SOURCE Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority

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