Lessons From High-Risk Industries Could Permanently Eliminate Patient Harm

Following the example of high-risk industries has the potential to help hospitals achieve zero patient harm, according to an article written by Joint Commission President and CEO, Mark R. Chassin, MD, and Joint Commission Executive Vice President for Healthcare Quality Evaluation, Jerod M. Loeb, PhD, and published in The Milbank Quarterly.

The article insists failures in patient safety should not be accepted as inevitable parts of daily hospital operation. Such failures may be preventable with the use of a high-reliability framework suggested by Drs. Chassin and Loeb.

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Among the actions necessary for preparing to adopt the high-reliability framework, Dr. Chassin and Dr. Loeb include:

• Complete commitment from hospital leadership to strive for zero patient harm.
• Creation of a hospital safety culture focusing on continuous improvement, reporting and trust.
• Adoption of new improvement tools and methods for patient safety, as well as a revision of existing safety programs and legislation.

The framework borrows from industries such as air travel, nuclear power and amusement parks and focuses on achieving permanent and progressive safety gains over long periods of time.

Dr. Chassin and Dr. Loeb note that the motivation and progress for this change must come from inside the health system, according to a news release.

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