• Stephen Harden

Every Day is Patient Safety Awareness Week

Updated: Jun 7, 2018

March 8-14, 2015 is Patient Safety Awareness Week.


Which, if you stop and think about it, is something we should be aware of every day of our lives.


After all, the ability to provide care safely is one of the three core competencies of all clinicians. I say "three" because patients require three things from their healers...


  1. Make me well (medical expertise)

  2. Don't harm me while making me well (patient safety)

  3. Treat me like a human being (patient experience)


If we can't ensure number 2, it probably doesn't matter if we can do numbers 1 and 3. So patient safety awareness is a 365/24/7 responsibility. Given its importance to every clinician and their patients, it's a good thing to give patient safety a bit of extra focus this week - with the goal of ending the week being better at the skill of patient safety than when you started the week.


Here are 7 suggestions to get you started to make the most out this week:

  1. Find out how many cases of patient harm have occurred in your unit/organization in the past year. Not the rate. Rather, the actual number of instances of harm. This step is to remind you of the work that needs to be done, and the need to get better.

  2. Remember that the primary root cause of most patient harm events is a breakdown in teamwork and communication. Ask yourself, "What one aspect of teamwork and communication will I get better at this week?" Develop one new communication habit this week - something like asking for read backs.

  3. In approximately 80% of every root cause analysis of a sentinel event I have seen it is clear that a member of the healthcare team chose not to speak up when they perceived a problem with patient care. This week, practice breaking down the barriers to communication by making an explicit request of those you work with to "speak up if you see something amiss. Say it early and often.

  4. Find out your unit's score, from the AHRQ safety climate survey, on the willingness of your team to speak up. Pick one thing you can do to raise this score. (See item #3.)

  5. Say, "Thank You," to at least one of the staff and/or committee members that work every day to provide safe care.

  6. Add one safety-focused comment this week to any meeting, huddle, shift briefing, or hand-off in which you participate.

  7. Distribute to your team at least one safety-focused article. Pick one thing from the article that you can emulate, copy, or do yourself.


Be better next Friday than you are today. Your patients deserve it.

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