March 14-20 is Patient Safety Awareness Week, an annual event created to encourage everyone to learn more about healthcare safety. Cornerstone Care clinics, with an office at 501 W. High Street in Waynesburg, is partnering with The Institute for Healthcare this week.
IHI is a nonprofit national and international organization focused on partnering with healthcare professionals to promote equity and trust, said Joanna Clark, a representative from IHI.
“During this week, we seek to advance important discussions locally and globally, and inspire action to improve the safety of the health care system — for patients and the workforce,” according to ihi.org.
Although the focus typically tends towards patients, Clark said members of the workforce need attention as well.
“The physical and psychological safety and well-being of the health care workforce is essential for safe, high-quality care,” Clark said.
During the acquisition and administering of the COVID-19 vaccine, many patients have displayed hesitancy, fear and confusion, Sarah DeCarlo, Psychiatry and Counseling Department Practice Manager at Cornerstone Care, said. The week is an opportunity to allay those negative emotions.
“At Cornerstone Care, we are dedicated to making sure every patient who comes through our doors receives the best, safest care possible,” the organization said in a Facebook post announcing their involvement.
Clark explained why a focus on safety is still so pertinent today, even amidst rapid science growth and improved technology.
“Patient Safety Awareness Week serves as a dedicated time and platform for growing awareness,” she said. “Although there has been real progress made in patient safety over the past two decades, current estimates cite medical harm as a leading cause of death worldwide.”
According to ihi.org, “The World Health Organization estimates that 134 million adverse events occur each year due to unsafe care in hospitals in low and middle-income countries, resulting in some 2.6 million deaths.”
The site also noted, “40% of patients experience harm in ambulatory and primary care settings with an estimated 80% of these harms being preventable.”
Some studies by the World Health Organization suggest, “as many as 400,000 deaths occur in the United States each year as a result of errors or preventable harm.”
Not every case of harm results in death, yet they can cause long-term impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being or family relationships.
“Preventing harm in health care settings is a public health concern. Everyone interacts with the health care system at some point in life. And everyone has a role to play in advancing safe health care,” Clark said.
The “Ideas for promoting patient safety awareness” tab on ihi.org offers examples, exercises and resources to engage the community in recognition of the week.