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Patient Safety Summit commits to lofty goals

When the president of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation recently declared that this year's Patient Safety Summit "isn't another academic conference... This isn't the same old thing," he wasn't kidding. The Patient Safety Summit trumpeted the lofty goal of eliminating all medical errors that are preventable and committed to doing so by the year 2020. An impressive roster of political, medical and business figures have endorsed these pledges. Among those who have endorsed them are the president, the vice-president, President Clinton and other influential individuals. 

The number of preventable medical errors that occur across the U.S. on an annual basis is staggering. According to a survey published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, between 210,000 and upwards of 400,000 Americans die as a result of preventable and negligent mistakes each year. In addition to mistakes resulting in patient deaths, scores of other preventable medical errors result in patient harm and complications. The idea that the medical, legal and business communities could possibly eliminate all of these mistakes over the span of five years seems almost unfathomable.

And yet, the very nature of preventable mistakes is that they are errors which can indeed be prevented. If patient safety practices are honored to the letter, if medical professionals are adequately taught and supported in regards to patient safety and if adequate funding, staffing and equipment are provided to medical professionals, one could imagine a world in which preventable medical errors are eliminated. Regardless of whether or not this goal is reached within the timeframe provided, eliminating preventable medical errors is absolutely a goal worth pursuing with urgency and seriousness of purpose.

Source: Forbes, "Can Business Savvy, Clout And Charisma Supercharge Patient Safety?" Michael Millenson, Jan. 29, 2015

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