This week marked the start of Patient Safety Awareness Week 2013.  This year’s theme, Patient Safety 7/365: 7 days of recognition, 365 days of commitment to safe care, reinforces the ongoing attention to patient safety by every care giver.  While we take one week to celebrate progress and to recognize groups and individuals who are making a difference, we are committed to continuing the work every day with every patient!

During this week we reflect on the progress we have made and look forward to the work that lies ahead.  As I reflect, I think back several years when HCA implemented barcode enabled medication and blood product administration. This meant we matched the barcode on a patient’s wrist band to the barcode on their medication to ensure we were delivering the right medication. It was pretty high-tech at the time but you if you look across the healthcare industry today, it’s becoming the standard. Just look at the Stage 2 meaningful use standards requiring medication administration verification technology.  This new incentive should help this important safety technology become part of the routine safeguards patients can count on at any hospital.

I also think about this past year when we focused on delivering a new safety technology to our hospitals called Vitals Now.  The Vitals Now technology is used by the nursing staff to monitor patient condition and identify early signs of problems.  Every time the nurse takes the patient’s blood pressure and other vital signs, Vitals Now applies a clinical decision support algorithm to the values and alerts the nurse to problems. It also instantly syncs vitals with the medical record which lets our nurses spend more time at the bedside and less time entering patient vitals into a computer.

Still, patient safety is more than technology. It is an attitude the caregiver brings with them to every patient encounter.  It is an attitude every patient needs to bring to the healthcare setting as well.  Patients and their caregivers, working together, are a powerful team in preventing errors.  Patients who watch, ask questions, and provide complete information make our hospitals safer places to be and make our care much more effective.  While we celebrate with our 200,000 employees, Patient Safety 7/365, is also a good reason for patients to celebrate!