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Perspectives

Our Perspectives on Safety section features expert viewpoints on current themes in patient safety, including interviews and written essays published monthly. Annual Perspectives highlight vital and emerging patient safety topics.

Latest Perspectives

This collaborative piece with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services discusses the current state of patient safety measurement, advancements in measuring patient safety, and explores future directions.

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Dave deBronkart, known as e-Patient Dave, is a co-founder and co-chair of the Society for Participatory Medicine and coauthor of Let Patients Help: A Patient Engagement Handbook. We spoke with him about engaging patients in their care and allowing patients to access their medical records.
Richard J. Baron, MD |
Most patient interactions with the health care system occur in the outpatient setting. Many potential and actual safety problems occur there as well.(1) Yet patient safety literature and practice do not seem to have reached deeply into ambulatory care. This is likely due to a combination of factors: in most practices, there is no layer of administration providing a second look at routine policies and procedures; there is no accrediting agency, like The Joint Commission, to mandate safe practices (2); and those of us in office practice are so consumed with simply getting through the day that it is difficult to recognize the problems, large and small, that can lead to major safety hazards. The business case for safety, such as it is, relies almost entirely on the malpractice rate-setting process: errors that result in litigation lead to higher premiums and personal and professional misery. However, as Studdert (3) has argued, relying on the malpractice system to identify and "correct" errors is unlikely to be timely or productive.
Sorrel King is the mother of Josie King, who died tragically in 2001 at age 18 months because of medical errors during a hospitalization at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has subsequently become one of the nation’s foremost patient advocates for safety, forming an influential foundation (the Josie King Foundation) and partnering with Johns Hopkins to promote the field of patient safety around the world.
John Banja, PhD, is Assistant Director for Health Sciences and Clinical Ethics and Associate Professor of Clinical Ethics at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Banja, whose doctorate is in philosophy, is currently participating in AHRQ-funded studies designed to help clinicians communicate more effectively in emotionally charged situations after errors or unforeseen outcomes. His book, Medical Errors and Medical Narcissism, covers issues around the appropriate, ethical disclosure of medical errors by health care professionals.