4 steps to improve patient safety: Presidential advisory group issues report to Biden

A federal patient safety coordinator should be appointed to advise the president on ways to improve safety at hospitals nationwide — that's one of the initiatives the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recommended in a Sept. 7 report

"Patient safety is an urgent national public health issue," the advisory group said in its report, citing data that shows 1 in 4 Medicare patients experience adverse events while hospitalized. "More than 40 percent of these events are determined to be due to preventable errors." 

The council issued four recommendations to improve patient safety nationwide:

  • Establish and maintain federal leadership for the improvement of patient safety as a national priority: This involves the establishment of a White House-led initiative to transform patient safety, in which HHS oversees coordination across relevant agencies and accountability for progress. As part of this initiative, PCAST recommended the president appoint a patient safety coordinator and create a multidisciplinary national patient safety team. 
  • Ensure patients receive evidence-based practices for preventing harm and addressing risks: HHS should collaborate with other federal departments to create a list of high-priority harms, as well as evidence-based practices and mitigation strategies to eliminate preventable harms. Additionally, hospitals should be incentivized to adopt evidence-based practices to reduce harm. CMS should require reporting of high-poritority harms "at least annually and moving to more frequently." 
  • Partner with patients to reduce disparities in medical errors and adverse outcomes: A diverse group of stakeholders should be involved in efforts to reduce harm, which requires partnering with patients and communities most affected by unsafe care. "Implementing evidence-based solutions in healthcare settings should include patient-centered approaches and give special attention to longstanding disparities," the report said.
  • Accelerate research and deployment of practices, technologies and exemplar systems of safe care: It's critical to advance new research and deploy new technologies to continue minimizing medical errors. This requires the development of a national patient safety research agenda, the group said. Creating best practices on AI technologies should be a part of these efforts. 

PCAST is a working group made up of 28 thought leaders selected for their accomplishments in the academic, government and private sectors. A 10-member working group on patient safety was also involved in creating the report. 

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