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LAS VEGAS – Why do we insist on making the goal of improving quality of care and enhancing patient safety into such a complex and expensive task? It is such a waste, and broadly it does not appear to be working

patient safetyJust make it personal. I believe that if every doctor, nurse, patient care assistant, labor worker, imaging technician, and anyone else who has an impact on patient care and safety would think of those patients as a beloved family member or a close friend and the thought of making a preventable mistake such as leaving a bedside down would be so painful that they could not bear it, then, and only then, would the quality of care improve and patients be safer in our hospitals and nursing homes.

Nowadays, hospitals not only care about the procedures but also the safety of the patient and how he or she feels about the whole ordeal. There is a whole system for interactive patient care where certain platforms offer an omnichannel engagement supporting the patient’s family as well. I wasn’t well aware of what interactive patient care is until I got to read about it on various online sites.

I have written this before in connection with my mother’s death, but today I am urging my colleagues to make it personal. On Tuesday this theme was an important part of my speech to the AHRA, the association of healthcare imaging executives and managers who are meeting here through Wednesday.

Ridiculous, scoff the consultants who make millions from the quality of care engagements. Such a simple answer to such a complex problem could not possibly work. Healthcare is complicated, one of the most complex of human organizations ever created by man, according to Peter Drucker. But not all complex organizations and their problems require complex solutions, and I believe this is one of those.

Personal Commitment. What does this mean? Well , it is certainly not some throw away phrase. It means that nurses and other patient care professionals are compassionately tending to the needs of their patients as if they were members of their family who, if a care mistake was made and caused harm, they would not be able to bear the pain.

Impossible! It is not fair to ask nurses to take on that kind of burden. Really?

When I speak to healthcare organizations, I cite the Journal of Patient Safety study that reported the number of preventable hospital deaths as being as high as 400,000 a year and the reaction of my audience is almost always one of acceptance. They know the numbers. Even when they push back, they know, deep down, that there is a serious problem. It is more outrageous when you consider that the numbers cited by the Journal of Patient Safety are the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every day of every week of every year, and all souls on board are lost.

How can we in good conscience accept that horrific outcome?

If you are a CEO, a CNO, a physician or other member of the patient care team, I urge you to stop accepting this horrible reality of our industry.

Set a high standard every day. Make it personal.