Patient Safety Movement - Donna Prosser on World Patient Safety Day 2021


Dr Donna Prosser has worked in healthcare for over thirty years, first as a bedside nurse, but more recently, for the past two decades, focussed on healthcare quality and safety in healthcare administration and as a consultant. As Chief Clinical Officer at the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, Dr Prosser’s focus is helping hospitals and healthcare organisations across the globe to eliminate medical errors and achieve zero harm. 

Dr. Prosser today talks about the Patient Safety Movement Foundation's efforts on patient safety. 

What initiatives are being undertaken by the Patient Safety Movement to achieve ZERO preventable patient deaths by 2030?

At the Patient Safety Movement Foundation (PSMF), we believe that there are three things that we need to focus on to achieve ZERO preventable harm in healthcare:

  1. Forge global relationships, partnerships, and collaboratives to actively promote change for patient safety. We can’t do this alone, so we need everyone who is involved in healthcare to join together to create safer systems. This includes patients, families, patient advocates, clinicians, administrators, professors, students, policymakers, insurers, technology companies, and concerned citizens. We ask hospitals and other healthcare organisationshealthcare-related companies, professional societies and associations, and colleges and universities, to make a formal commitment to achieving ZERO harm with us. It’s free and easy to do!
  2. Develop and disseminate patient safety education to governing bodies, healthcare professionals, students, patients, families, and the public. We believe that our education efforts need to provide actionable solutions for all the stakeholders that I just mentioned. Our Actionable Patient Safety Solutions (APSS) include evidence-based summaries of best practises, as well as webinars, videos, blogs, and articles. These are all freely available on our website. We also provide free PDSA coaching for improvement teams to organisations that have made a formal commitment to ZERO. Patients and families will also find resources to help them better navigate the healthcare system, which includes our mobile app, Patient Aider®.
  3. Create public demand for safe and highly reliable healthcare. We believe that the only way we will get to ZERO preventable harm in healthcare is if every primary care clinic, outpatient treatment centre, hospital, post-acute care facility, and home care agency becomes a High Reliability Organisation (HRO). This has long been a requirement for other high-risk industries, like aviation and nuclear power, and it should be for healthcare as well. But we also know that this is likely not going to happen until the public demands it. Our PSMF Ambassador programme and Healthcare Safety Fellowship spread awareness of our vision and mission across the globe. We host global events to bring everyone together to reignite our collective passion to improve this tremendous problem. Today, on World Patient Safety Day, we are hosting our annual Unite For Safe Care event. There is still time to register, because we will have it available for on-demand viewing for the next week! Be on the lookout also for our upcoming virtual World Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit in March 2022.

What has the Patient Safety Movement accomplished so far to reach this goal?

In the past, we asked healthcare organisations to share patient safety data around eliminating harm in specific populations when they made a commitment to ZERO, such as sepsis, falls, or healthcare-acquired infections. When the pandemic hit, hospitals became overwhelmed and these types of patient safety events significantly increased, shining a bright spotlight on the fact that, without a foundation of safe and reliable care, these population-specific improvement efforts don’t last. So, we changed our commitment model this year so that any healthcare organisation, not just hospitals, can commit to ZERO by beginning the journey towards high reliability. Now, there is no requirement for sharing data; leaders with the authority to commit on their organisation’s behalf can complete a simple form and their team can join the over 231,000 people who have already pledged their commitment to this journey!

Do you have global partners that you would like to mention, and what have they done so far to help achieve this goal?

We are very proud to have 119 committed partners in 22 countries who are just as dedicated as we are to improving patient safety! In addition, we are actively working with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the Leapfrog Group on a Patient Safety Moonshot, with a goal of aligning financial incentives, increasing the transparency of safety data, and adopting region-appropriate regulatory and legislative oversight. We are also working closely with the World Health Organisation, to help them spread the word about their recently released Global Patient Safety Action Plan, and to encourage every country in the world to develop a National Patient Safety Action Plan. 

What additional key strategies do you think are needed to achieve the goal of ZERO preventable patient deaths by 2030?

Unless we eliminate the name, shame, and blame game in healthcare, the culture of silence around medical error will continue to thrive. It’s up to every individual, whether physician, nurse, therapist, administrator, patient, or family member, to recognise that punishing people for making mistakes instead of addressing the system and process issues that caused them will never allow us to get to ZERO. Let’s have open, honest, transparent dialogue about what’s happening and why, so we can fix it once and for all.

What do you think about this year’s World Patient Safety Day campaign focusing on safe and respectful childbirth?

It is so scary to know that hundreds of thousands of mothers and millions of newborns die every year across the globe due to unsafe maternal care practises. Even in high-income countries, this remains a serious threat, especially to women of colour. I am very pleased that the WHO has chosen to highlight this population for the theme of this year’s World Patient Safety Day and hope that it will help generate awareness that most maternal and newborn deaths are preventable. I think it also highlights an important message: at some point in our lives, we will all be patients. We can do something about preventing medical harm, but it won’t happen until all of us join together in this effort!


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Published on : Fri, 17 Sep 2021

Patient Safety Movement, PSMF, World Patient Safety Day, World Patient Safety Day 2021, Donna Prosser, Patient Safety Movement 2021 Dr Donna Prosser has worked in healthcare for over thirty years, first as a bedside nurse, but more recently, for the past two decades, focussed on healthcare quality and safety in healthcare administration and as a consultant.

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