NPSF president: 5 major patient safety developments from 2015

Tejal Gandhi, MD, the president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation, called 2015 "an incredibly busy and productive year for the NPSF and for the broad patient safety community," in a recent blog post.

There, she laid out five of the most important advancements in the patient safety space from 2015, which are summarized below.

1. Reductions in patient harm. A report released in December 2015 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality noted that patient harm in hospitals dropped 17 percent from 2010 to 2014, which Dr. Gandhi called "good news," but also noted that incidents of patient harm remain too high.

2. A renewed focus on diagnostic errors, thanks to an Institute of Medicine report, "Improving Diagnosis in Health Care." The report estimates that diagnostic errors affects about 12 million people in the U.S. annually, and "launched an important conversation about a serious patient safety issue with broad impact across the continuum of care," Dr. Gandhi wrote.

3. General interest in measurement and transparency. Last year, ProPublica launched its Surgeon Scorecard, sharing individual surgeons' and hospitals' complication rates for eight surgeries. The database helped spark discussions around data transparency in the industry.

4. New focus on mental, not just physical harm. Patient harm shouldn't just address infections or other physical problems, but has started to also include emotional or psychological harm patients can face during care. "We need to continue discussing, learning about and preventing emotional harm to patients and families," according to Dr. Gandhi.

5. Recommendations for total systems safety. NPSF released a report "Free from Harm: Accelerating Patient Safety Improvement Fifteen Years after 'To Err Is Human'" in December, which provides eight recommendations on how to create total systems safety and a culture of safety.

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