NPSF’s Call To Action Lists Preventable Healthcare Harm As Leading Cause of Death Becoming Public Health Crisis


With Preventable Healthcare Harm Becoming a Public Health crisis, The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) Issues A Call to Action

Preventable-Health-Care-Harm-CrisisPreventable healthcare harm has become a public health crisis in the United States, bringing a Call to Action from The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF). According to the NPSF, preventable healthcare harm is a leading cause of death in the U.S. When preventable injury occurs, multiple organizational factors often contributed to the outcome, many of which are outside the control of any single individuals. However, the Foundation asserts that a preoccupation with blame has hindered attempts to address the broader systemic issues at the center of this problem. []

The NPSF believes that a public health response that draws on the experience and expertise of public health professionals and organizations will accelerate progress in the fight to reduce preventable health care harm, and aid in the establishment of the critical infrastructure needed to address this challenge across the U.S. health care system. The group asserts that the advantages of such a response can be seen in the work of the Federal Steering Committee for the Prevention of Health Care–Associated Infections. Established in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control, the Steering Committee’s most recent progress report indicates that significant progress has been made in the effort to eliminate these infections, including a 50% decrease in central line–associated bloodstream infections.

The Foundation is now calling for a public health response that adopts the following framework to guide a collective effort addressing preventable healthcare harm:

  • 1. Define the Problem and Set National Goals: Leaders and policy makers must establish preventable health care harm as a public health crisis and commit to reducing this harm across the care continuum.
  • 2. Coordinate Activities Across Multiple Sectors to Ensure Widespread Adoption and Evaluation: Create centralized and coordinated national oversight of patient safety involving a broad array of stakeholders.
  • 3. Inform, Educate and Empower the Community: Partner with patients and families for the safest care.
  • 4. Effectively Measure and Monitor Progress at all Levels: Create a common set of objective safety metrics to ensure widespread adoption, evaluation, and accountability.
  • 5. Identify Causes and Interventions that Work: Ensure that leaders establish and sustain a culture of safety; provide sustainable funding for research in patient safety and implementation science; and ensure that technology is safe and optimized to improve patient safety.
  • 6. Educate and Train: Support and educate the workforce.

“Each of us will be patients during our lives. By extension, all members of society have a stake in improving the safety of our health care system,” the NSPF said in its Call to Action. “Similarly, successful implementation of a public health response to prevent health care harm requires coordination and partnership among all stakeholders, including government agencies, health care organizations, insurers, foundations, industry and other private sector organizations, as well as policymakers, patients and families, health care leaders, health professionals, and other members of the health care workforce.”

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