Posted by Marc Lichtenstein
Hundreds of thousands of patients are harmed while seeking treatment, and thousands die each year, from preventable medical errors.
And, unfortunately, according to The Economics of Health Care Quality and Medical Errors (Wolters Kluwer, 2012), those numbers are not decreasing-- “Approximately 200,000 Americans die from preventable medical errors including facility-acquired conditions”. That’s enough to place “preventable medical harm (medical errors)” among the top 10 leading causes of death in the US.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have long recognized that improving patient safety is one of the most basic ways we can improve health care. Better, safer procedures mean healthier outcomes, fewer complications and lower readmissions rates.
“Eliminating these avoidable deaths and injuries has been and continues to be a national priority for the Blues®. We are partnering with doctors and hospitals in local communities across the country to improve patient safety through programs that eliminate hospital-acquired infections, reduce readmissions and prevent surgical errors,” says Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association President and CEO Scott P. Serota.
“Our efforts to make sure that patients receive the care they need, when they need it, and getting it right the first time, are already producing significant results. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies’ collaborations have helped to save thousands of lives, shorten hospital stays and substantially reduce rates of hospital-acquired infections by as much as 30 percent among all patients regardless of whether or not they are Blue members.”
And Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have helped, by developing programs to help improve patient safety like QualityBLUE, which recognizes and rewards high-quality care and improved outcomes for patients. Our Quality-In-Sights®: Hospital Incentive Program (Q-HIP®) sets financial incentives based on best-in-class medical standards of patient satisfaction, safety and outcome. And we’ve created the landmark quality collaborative “Preventing Readmissions through Effective Partnerships” (PREP) to significantly reduce hospital readmissions by redesigning the discharge process.
The Blues also urge patients everywhere to help protect their safety by taking a more active role in their own care. One way is by downloading the Blue Surgical Safety Checklist™, a one page toolkit that itemizes the essential safety steps that surgical teams should perform at three key stages of surgery. Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that hospitals that implemented the World Health Organization’s Checklist (the foundation for the Blue Surgical Safety Checklist) showed a 36 percent decrease in complications and mortality rates arising from errors in the operating room.
“The work of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the country evidences the important commitment of a major payer to the patient safety work and reflects their understanding that it takes a collaborative team effort across all parties to deliver on the shared mission of making the healthcare system safer,” said Diane Pinakiewicz, president of the National Patient Safety Foundation.
“First, do no harm” is a basic principle of medical practice. It frames patient safety as a fundamental element of healthcare. Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies believe it’s also fundamental to transforming America’s healthcare system.