News & Events

National Patient Safety Foundation issues call to action: Patient safety requires a coordinated public health response


During Patient Safety Awareness Week, the National Patient Safety Foundation issued a Call to Action: Preventable Health Care Harm Is a Public Health Crisis and Patient Safety Requires a Coordinated Public Health Response. The Call to Action outlines how a public health approach can bring about widespread advances in patient safety and provides a public health framework to reduce harm to patients and the workforce.

The NPSF Call to Action reflects Tufts Medical Center's commitment to advancing safe care and to elevating patient and workforce safety as a core value. We are proud to be among the early endorsers of this work.

Each of us will be a patient at some point in life, but evidence suggests that preventable harm in health care is a leading cause of death and morbidity in the US. Some health care organizations have been able to successfully implement improvement strategies (for example, checklists, medication barcoding, revamped care transitions), but progress has been inconsistent. The NPSF Call to Action argues for a coordinated public health approach to identify sources of preventable harm — in the case of patient safety, protection from harm related to health care — and deploy prevention efforts. By initiating a public health response, health care leaders and policymakers can establish the infrastructure needed to ensure that patients and the health care workforce are free from preventable harm across the health care spectrum.

 “We believe that in order to make meaningful and sustained improvement in patient safety, we need to think about it as a serious public health concern, no less than obesity, cancer, or motor vehicle crashes,” said Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, president and chief executive officer, NPSF. “The Call to Action outlines a coordinated, multipronged, ongoing approach to systematically monitor, measure, and improve patient safety across the continuum of care through partnerships and collaboration among policy makers, health care leaders, professional associations, and others.”

The Call to Action sets forth six broad categories of recommendations beginning with the need for a national steering committee and a national action plan for the prevention of health care-associated harm to the need to expand or develop education, training, and resources for the health care workforce.

The Call to Action incorporates extensive guidance and perspectives from the NPSF Board of Advisors and Board of Directors, made up of more than 40 experts in patient safety, patient advocates, industry representatives, and other key constituents.