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Time to Recognize and Honor Patients

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 18, 2016

Patient Safety Awareness Week aims to engage health consumers in greater understanding of what we mean when we talk about patient safety.


By Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS

Tejal K. Gandhi


Anyone working in health care is likely to be aware of some of the many recognition weeks that take place throughout the year. From National CRNA Week (in January) to National Radiologic Technology Week (in November), the health care industry sets aside time to recognize the specialized efforts, skills, and dedication of its workforce.


Likewise, disease-specific weeks and months abound, from American Heart Month (February) to Diabetic Eye Disease Month (November), with the goals of informing the public of risks and prevention.


Patient Safety Awareness Week, which NPSF has led in March every year since 2002, is a bit different from the rest. It does not honor a specific area of the health care workforce, and it does not target a single issue. Instead, this recognition week challenges all health professionals and workers to put the focus on patients and families and on the need to create the safest health care delivery environment possible.


Like the disease-specific weeks and months, however, Patient Safety Awareness Week does aim to engage health consumers in greater understanding of the problem and what we mean when we talk about patient safety.


This year, in the wake of the recent NPSF report calling for a public health approach to improve patient safety, NPSF has initiated an ongoing campaign. The United for Patient Safety campaign seeks to highlight and reinforce the fact that everyone has a role to play in keeping patients safe and free from harm. Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 13-19, will be observed as a highlight of the campaign, through the message that “every day is patient safety day.”


Among the activities we have planned for the week is a webcast with distinguished speakers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and NPSF. We anticipate a thought-provoking discussion about how we can apply the theories and principles of public health to accelerate progress in patient safety.


According to the CDC Foundation, “Injury prevention and detection are key components of public health. . . . Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations.” Even the healthiest among us is likely to be a patient one day, meaning the entire population has a stake in the safety of the health care system and the need to prevent harm.


Public health practice relies on research into the causes of disease and injury and application of broad programs to address them. Speaking last year about the Future of Public Health, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, noted that, “The involvement of many parts of society, including government agencies, health organizations, nongovernmental organizations, clinicians, the private sector, and communities, is increasingly important for success” in public health efforts.


The same is true when it comes to patient safety; we need everyone to be involved.


What can you do? To begin, visit where you can honor a loved one affected by medical error, download educational materials, or share your plans for observing Patient Safety Awareness Week in your organization or community.


Join us March 17 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time for a complimentary webcast, Patient Safety Is a Public Health Issue. Registration is open to all. Comment on this post below.  Note: To comment, you must first register on the website. If you are already registered, you must log in to comment.

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Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, is president and chief executive officer of the National Patient Safety Foundation and of the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute.

Tags:  patient safety  patients  public health 

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