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Member Spotlight: Elizabeth Duthie

Posted By Joanna Carmona, Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety (ASPPS) is a membership program for professionals

and others interested in patient safety. This is part of a series of member profiles. 

by Joanna Carmona 

Elizabeth Duthie is a lifetime

member of ASPPS


Elizabeth Duthie, RN, PhD, director of patient safety, Montefiore Medical Center


What does patient safety mean to you?

“It means teamwork. Knowing that someone has your back and will help if things start to go off the rails is an incredibly powerful tool for error prevention. Another critical aspect of patient safety is taking a proactive approach. Asking Where can things go wrong and how do I prevent it? and adopting the aviation philosophy which is What’s the worst thing that could happen and how can I prevent it? is another error prevention strategy we should strive for in health care.


"NPSF runs the most impressive

patient safety conference in the nation."
—Elizabeth Duthie

Why did you join the ASPPS?

“NPSF provides excellent educational opportunities. There’s literature alerts, convening of expert panels, and disseminating of cutting edge information. NPSF has really excellent networking possibilities and you can meet so many people at their conferences. Speaking of conferences, I have to say that NPSF runs the most impressive patient safety conference in the nation.”


What are some of the biggest challenges you’ll face as you start your new position as patient safety director at Montefiore Hospital?

“The biggest challenge that I have found is leveraging learning after an adverse event occurs. I get that we need short-term fixes for problems after harm occurs, but we can’t stop there. We need to clearly identify the underlying systems if we are to achieve sustainable safety gains.”


What keeps you up at night?

“What gives me a worried heart is the tremendous burden of suffering that comes from medical error— the horrible physical and emotional burden for patients, families, and clinicians. In the workplace it has a ripple effect. I have watched colleagues become frightened about their own practice after witnessing the trauma high-performing clinicians experience after a serious sentinel event. They realize if it can happen to him or her, it can happen to me. It just rocks everyone’s world. The drive to stop that harm and the subsequent suffering is what fuels my passion for creating safer systems.”


In your opinion, what’s the future of the patient safety field?

“We need to better understand how to build partnerships between providers, clinicians, patients, and families across the continuum of care. I believe the future is when everyone works together not to just deliver excellent care within the hospital but has a commitment to see that excellent care extended into the community.”


What is something most people don’t know about you?

“With the help of a retired comic, I performed stand-up comedy in one of my prior jobs. I would come up with jokes about work and perform 10-minute sets at the end of meetings to provide comic relief during the work day!” 


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Joanna Carmona is communications coordinator at the National Patient Safety Foundation. Contact her at


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