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Member Spotlight: Jason Adelman

Posted By Joanna Carmona, Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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 


Jason Adelman is a lifetime member


Jason Adelman MD, MS, Chief Patient Safety Officer, Associate Chief Quality Officer

Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

Board of Advisors, NPSF


What made you interested in joining the patient safety field?


“During my time as a hospitalist I became aware of the kinds of significant medical errors that can happen in a hospital. In one case of a wrong-patient error, an elderly woman was mistakenly given methadone through a series of systems lapses and ended up in a coma in the ICU. It was upsetting to hear of this error, but I also realized the potential for Health IT systems to protect patients from harm by keeping providers from making errors. This event really affected me, and further drove my interest to adapt our IT systems to reduce errors that could cause harm to patients.


“Given my interest in the field, when the time came for our hospital to name a patient safety officer, they approached me and I jumped at the opportunity to take on that role. There is more formal education now, but back then there were few opportunities for training in patient safety. I found my way to NPSF because it was the only patient safety organization with the focus I was looking for. I started attending and volunteering at NPSF conferences to learn as much as I could about patient safety. I’ve continued that learning in my position as chief patient safety officer and through my research into wrong-patient errors and Health IT safety. The luckiest thing in the world is to have your job not feel like a job, but be a true passion, and that’s how I feel about patient safety.” 


"It will be a long journey fraught with speed bumps and wrong turns, but if we keep designing and implementing safer systems,

Health IT will become as reliable as an ATM dispensing cash."

—Jason Adelman

What are some ways we can use information technology to prevent medical errors?

“I believe that eventually Health IT will make health care significantly safer and more reliable. It will be a long journey fraught with speed bumps and wrong turns, but if we keep designing and implementing safer systems, Health IT will become as reliable as an ATM dispensing cash. I believe Health IT will ultimately prevent diagnostic errors, medication errors, and generally help make healthcare reliable and safe.


“Some of the research I’ve done over the past several years has demonstrated how technology can help reduce errors. For example, I’ve created a metric to quantify wrong patient errors by developing an IT tool that looks for when doctors place an order on a patient, cancels that same order, and then places the exact same order for another patient. We would run this report twice a day and find at least 15 to 20 instances of potential wrong-patient errors each day, and then call the doctors involved and ask them what happened. Most of the time these events were confirmed as errors. We were then able to test interventions to reduce wrong-patient errors by using this metric. (See Understanding and preventing wrong-patient electronic orders: a randomized controlled trial.)


“In fact, we used this system for measuring wrong-patient errors to demonstrate that hospitals who temporarily name newborns Babyboy or Babygirl significantly increase the risk of placing an order on the wrong baby in their NICUs.  However, we were also able to demonstrate that if hospitals used more distinct temporary names that incorporates the mother’s first name, such as Wendysboy or Judysgirl, they can significantly reduce this risk.  This research was only possible because we had a reliable measure of wrong-patient errors.” (See Use of Temporary Names for Newborns and Associated Risks.)


Why did you become a member of ASPPS?

“I am passionate about patient safety. I want to continually learn as well as to share my experiences in patient safety, with the hope to improve patient safety beyond the hospital where I work. Being a member of ASPPS is one of the ways I use to connect with people.


“I am currently the chief patient safety officer at Columbia University Medical Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. I got this job because several years ago their quality and safety leadership read my article on wrong-patient errors. They got in touch and asked how I put the system together and I gladly shared everything I knew. I wanted them to have all of the information I had, so they could help patients at their hospital. Because of this, when there was a change in leadership they thought of me. I believe that when it comes to patient safety, we should all share what we know so that each person involved in patient care can contribute to making care safer for everyone.” 


What is something unique about you?


“I have four kids so there’s always activity in my house. I can see how distractions can lead to errors. In my case, right after dinner I often join my four kids in the living room to play a game. On occasion the children and I will leave food out in the kitchen, which is annoying to my wife. It’s not a life-threatening error, but we can all use a little help dealing with distractions and human errors.” 


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


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