Quality & Patient Safety

High reliability and the impact of 'rescuing' patients

Patient Safety Monitor, December 21, 2016

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The healthcare industry is transitioning to a new wave of patient safety, according to a group of experts that says high reliability will become a bigger emphasis for healthcare facilities looking to improve quality care.

Amir Ghaferi, MD, MS, assistant professor of surgery and business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the chief of general surgery at the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Healthcare System, spoke with Patient Safety Monitor Journal about this transition, which he and several colleagues outlined in an article published in Harvard Business Review (https://hbr.org/2016/08/the-next-wave-of-hospital-innovation-to-make-patients-safer). During the conversation, Ghaferi explained what it means for organizations to be highly reliable and how hospitals are implementing new approaches to facilitate better patient care.

Editor’s note: The following was lightly edited for space and clarity.

Q: In the Harvard Business Review article, you make reference to the Institute of Medicine’s To Err is Human report in 1999 that said as many as 98,000 people die each year from medical errors. A recent report pegged that number at more than 250,000. Has healthcare gotten worse or are we just more aware of these errors?
A: I think the 250,000 number is very controversial. Healthcare is definitely safer and for anyone to say it is less safe than it was in 1999 is incorrect. I don’t think that’s an accurate characterization of healthcare.
Healthcare is definitely more complex now. The systems in which we deliver care are more complex. The patients we are caring for are more complex, and the treatments we have are much more complex. That number [of patient deaths] has not increased by two- to three-fold since that time.

 

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Patient Safety Monitor.

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