Sunday, July 26, 2009

12 in a Room……..

What do you get when you put 12 strangers in a room for a week, from each part of the country, (and Canada) with different backgrounds, different educations, different lifestyles but one passion – to make healthcare safer? You will probably get - safer healthcare.

This has been my experience this past week in California as I begin my year long journey as a Patient Safety Leadership Fellow at the American Hospital Association and National Patient Safety Foundation training. Using our own project to make patient care safer as an anchor for our work, we spent 4 ½ days bonding as we learned about “Gracious Space” which focuses on sharing information and accepting other's differences. We did team building that made us laugh but also recognize our own leadership skills and lack of them and we learned about each other, and how each of us are interested, in our own way, in making patient care safer which will not only improve care – but save lives.

It was an eye opening experience and the people who I have grown to adore in just a few days are all so different I have to wonder if this was planned. 11 women and a young male doctor who many of us began (s)mothering almost immediately. One Fellow with a contagious sense of humor, another with an infectious laugh and smile, another with a more serious side that is built upon years seeing the worst in healthcare. One who seems a natural mom and caretaker and another who is quiet but has an obvious charm and gentleness.

These personalities are as different as their (our) work and projects. In the year to come, we will each touch our community or healthcare system and begin to focus on the missing piece we each see as a need for our intervention in patient’s safety.

I look forward even more now to the upcoming year, though I don’t see it an easy year following our first in person meeting. I know it will be a difficult time but am committed that through this fellowship, I will make healthcare safer here at least on Long Island – if I have anything to say about it – and now I do.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Here it is again – July. According to the best selling book “You the Smart Patient” by Michael F. Roizen MD and Mehemet C. Oz, best known for his appearances on Oprah, midsummer is the worst time to check into a hospital. July is when hospitals are “crawling with newbies” and the least experienced physicians. We should “give them a few months to break in” the book tells us. Gee, thanks for the warning us (on page 33 last paragraph)

Any wonder we celebrate Patient Safety Day in July? July 25th patient safety advocates throughout the country and around the world are connected by a few moments of silence at 6:00 PM. We remember those who have lost their life because of their medical care or their life has been changed forever – the survivors as I like to call them.

Although I don’t want to fear for those poor souls who must use the hospital system in July and August, I do know of many deaths which resulted in medical injury. I am saddened each year around this time even though it doesn’t coincide with my own, personal loss. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little we can do about this except be sure the patients, or potential patients know about this dangerous time to be hospitalized.

I am often saddened by the knowledge that is not being shared that people are more likely to be injured or killed in July. (Not my information, read my friend and colleagues blog) Patient Empowerment Blog . You can’t make this stuff up.

Seems simple enough to fix – no? Last year we held an emotionally charged event on Patient Safety Day; A tribute to the lives lost and changed forever. This year I will be heading back from California on July 25th where I start my patient safety fellowship. But you can rest assured I will be thinking, at 6:00 PM about those who could not be with us today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I recently received these wonderful photos of the “Fountain” at the National Patient Safety Foundation Annual Congress. It may, at first just look like a fountain but it is much more. It is a place that people who have suffered the loss of a family member, friend or a patient from a medical injury can put a flower in and spend time reflecting, hoping and wishing for the things that bring us all together – patient’s safety.
Anyone can come buy and put a flower in the fountain representing the loss of life or quality of life because of medical care.

The fountain won’t be found at other conferences but NPSF continually remembers the patients and hears the patient’s voice through their work.

The fountain is one of those things that makes NPSF special and makes them different than other organizations. It’s not inexpensive and doesn’t add to the educational aspect of the yearly congress but it surely does add to the humanness of patient safety and the reason we all do this work.