During the third week of March, patient safety will be the focus of a large national campaign. Patient Safety Awareness Week is intended to highlight the need to reduce harm in health care.

It will be held in 2016 from March 13-19, during which time The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) will draw attention to its initiative “United for Patient Safety”, designed to "spark dialogue and promote action to improve the safety of the health care system for patients and the workforce". Patients, families, and healthcare professionals are encouraged to take part in the campaign by pledging to collaborate on care decisions and to ask questions in order to increase safety.

The NPSF has been an advocate for healthcare safety since it was established in 1997. Its message is "every day is patient safety day". The independent, nonprofit group was formed after a 1996 meeting of representatives from the American Medical Association, which looked at medical error. The idea was to create "a collaborative initiative involving all members of the healthcare community aimed at stimulating leadership, fostering awareness, and enhancing patient safety knowledge creation, dissemination and implementation." Today the foundation successfully works to promote patient safety in the United States and beyond.

In 2015, NPSF President and CEO, Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, was named one of the Top 25 Women in Healthcare, and one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives, by Modern Healthcare magazine. She says, "We have seen some improvement in patient safety, but one in ten patients still experiences a hospital-acquired complication, and many more harms occur in outpatient settings, where most care is provided, so there is still much work to be done." Furthermore, it is estimated that medical error causes 44,000 to 98,000 deaths each year among hospital patients.

Individuals can get involved in this year's Patient Safety Awareness Week by reading educational materials, posting pictures, and remembering their loved ones on the website UnitedforPatientSafety.org.

The NPSF's report, Free from Harm: Accelerating Patient Safety Improvement Fifteen Years after To Err Is Human, outlines several recommendations for achieving a culture of safety in health care. During Patient Safety Awareness Week, healthcare professionals are urged to read the report, discuss it with colleagues, and work to increase the safety of the care they provide.

Other ways to take part include harnessing the power of social media by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter, ordering promotional items online to promote Patient Safety Awareness Week, and registering on the campaign website to learn and share ideas and activities to inspire others.

"As a leader on the frontlines of patient safety, there are a number of ways that you can engage and take an active role in the United for Patient Safety campaign and Patient Safety Awareness week," said a spokesperson for the NPSF. "From taking a pledge for patient safety and sharing your expertise in our discussion forum to supporting through sponsorship, there are a number of ways you can show your stakeholders your commitment to this important issue."

References: 

National Patient Safety Foundation. History and Timeline. http://www.npsf.org/?page=historyandtimeline. Accessed February 29, 2016.

United for Patient Safety. About the United for Patient Safety Campaign. http://www.unitedforpatientsafety.org/about_the_campaign. Accessed February 29, 2016.

United for Patient Safety. www.UnitedforPatientSafety.org. Accessed February 29, 2016.

National Patient Safety Foundation. NPSF Announces United for Patient Safety Campaig. February 3, 2016. http://www.npsf.org/news/news.asp?id=272346. Accessed February 29, 2016.

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