Health Care

Patient safety and what health care organizations are doing about it

February 28, 2019
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Emmalilly Hoxsie
Emmalilly Hoxsie. Courtesy Great Lakes Health Connect

The World Health Organization defines patient safety as the “absence of preventable harm to a patient during the process of health care.” A certain degree of risk exists in every health care experience. There are several ways health care providers and organizations can reduce the risk of harm to an acceptable level.

This level is determined by considering current knowledge, available resources and considering what would happen if the patient does not receive health care.

In a survey conducted by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, 41 percent of Americans said they had experienced a medical error in their own care or in the care of a close relative or friend.

Health care organizations and other national groups share information about this important issue by recognizing Patient Safety Awareness Week. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) organize this event annually. Patient Safety Awareness Week occurs this year March 10-16.

Research about the impact of health information exchange and patient safety found that “up to 18 percent of the patient safety errors generally, and as many as 70 percent of adverse drug events could be eliminated if the right information about the right patient is available at the right time,” according to the Journal of Biomedical Informatics.

Increasing patient safety in health care organizations requires a multi-faceted approach supported by diverse stakeholders. Health care providers, health care organization leadership, patient advocates, industry thought leaders, professional organizations, health care payers, policymakers and health (information) technology experts need to work together to identify best practices and create a coordinated public health response to the crisis.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has information on its website about how members of the public can protect themselves and their families in various health care settings.

Many of Michigan’s health care organizations already work with Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC), Michigan’s health information exchange organization. Great Lakes Health Connect is a nonprofit that delivers clinical information to the point of care. It collaborates with health care organizations including hospitals, medical practices, skilled nursing facilities, health departments, community mental health agencies and communication organizations to find technology that allows them to enhance patient care and safety while also reducing the cost of care.