Alliance Joins National Effort to Improve Patient Safety
by Alliance Medical Director Dr. Sharon Eloranta
Unsafe care for patients is startlingly common – estimates indicate that at least 250,000 Americans die each year from incidents related to preventable medical error, and many more are harmed. To help address this issue, many organizations and businesses have come together to advocate for the creation of a federal National Patient Safety Board (NPSB). The proposed NPSB would operate in a way similar to that of the National Transportation Safety Board – to study serious patient safety incidents and then propose preventive actions and solutions that could be widely adopted.
Last month, Karen Wolk Feinstein, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Regional Health Collaborative and a founder of the NPSB movement, spoke about the need for the NPSB to the Steering Committee of the Washington Patient Safety Coalition (WPSC), of which the Washington Health Alliance is a member. Feinstein urged the formation of the NPSB, particularly in light of COVID, which has exposed many additional risks and inequities in safe patient care. At the conclusion of the meeting, the WPSC Steering Committee unanimously approved joining the NPSB effort. The WPSC is part of the Foundation for Health Care Quality and is a member-based program made up of more than 40 organizations, representing healthcare systems, associations, and advocacy groups across Washington state.
The mission of the NPSB aligns with the Alliance’s work to improve value in healthcare. System-enabled human error that reaches patients is an example of low-value care that can lead to additional unnecessary, low-value services and patient/family suffering.