Feeling safe while receiving medical care is an unspoken expectation for recipients of modern medicine. Patient Safety is also the cornerstone of the reputation for medical providers and facilities. THRIVE, with its mission of delivering improved health and sustained economic growth, has made Patient Safety a priority focus.

Did you know that patient safety mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the US? This makes the prevention of infections, injuries, errors, and accidents a paramount issue. In our region, it is estimated that 360 hospital error-related deaths per year occur. In addition to the loss of members of our communities, there is a direct associated cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, making the loss a negative part of our local economies.

THRIVE has formed a Patient Safety Task Force that is leading a bold shift in culture, working to achieve a target ZERO harm to patients. This intervention will construct a system of safety across the region and its institutions that will elevate the standard of care, the reputation of our healthcare providers and institutions, and will attract patients from around the country to our facilities. 

Leading the task force is Sasha Savage, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of THRIVE and the Medical Director of the residency clinic at MidMichigan Medical Center.  Filling out the leadership of the task force are representatives from regional healthcare systems, the Veterans Administration, as well as the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance. “I feel very encouraged by the wonderful show of support we have received from the key healthcare, business, and policy leaders in the region, and the greatest confidence in the expertise and genuine care of the tremendous healthcare leaders on the task force,” said Dr. Savage.

The first steps for the task force are to review existing public healthcare data, quality and safety data, formulate metrics on patient safety, and establish benchmarks. In these first steps, healthcare ecosystem stakeholders are key participants. From these first steps, a shared understanding of culture transformation to advance progress was established, alongside the analyzing of improvement areas and goals/opportunities, and the on-going safety work at various regional healthcare systems.

Community and patient engagement is crucial as work progresses towards the Zero Harm target. A screening for the medical community and the general public of the To Err Is Human documentary is being planned with local partner organizations. The documentary is about the ongoing fight in America’s healthcare systems against preventable harm. It is directed by the son of the late patient safety pioneer, Dr. John M. Eisenberg. The film features interviews with healthcare leaders, footage of real-world efforts, and one family’s journey from victims to empowered patient advocates. More in-depth work on how to engage family caregivers will be mapped out in the near future.  

Patient input is imperative in the task force’s efforts. ”The more we partner with families and individuals, including intentionally seeking their guidance and input, the more complete and effective the Zero Harm initiative will be,” said Dr. Savage. A structure for facilitating the input from a patient cohort is an important task on the task force’s list. Patient input will be looked at from a regional perspective so as to obtain information from a broader area. The intent is to  develop a toolkit from gathered information and resources to distribute at a later date.

The aim is to reach the Zero Harm target within five years, “The task force is focused on serious and rapid action to achieve this aggressive target as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Savage. “With the support we currently have from the healthcare systems, the VA, and our communities, we will be successful,” he said.

For more information on volunteering or to receive updates, please contact Dallas Rau, THRIVE executive admin at d.rau@thrivegreatlakesbay.org