Patrick Malone, writing in the Huffington Post, reminds us the best way to celebrate Patient Safety Day on July 25th. For those of you who don’t know, Malone is a renowned attorney and the author of The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care—and Avoiding the Worst (in stores: July 2009).
These patient safety advocates are laypeople who have turned their own tragic losses — of husbands, wives, sons and daughters — into personal crusades to make our hospitals and clinics cleaner, safer places so that others won’t have to go through the pain they have experienced. And one demand that many of them express is that the medical industry become more open and honest in dealing with its tragic mistakes — so that errors can become learning experiences.
Candlelight vigils are taking place across the country on Saturday to mark this date. The advocates who started this quiet annual commemoration do not have, for the most part, medical or nursing degrees, but they know patients and their families can make valuable contributions to improving the quality and safety of the health care system. I learned many of their stories while researching my book on how patients can protect themselves and get the best medical care by becoming active participants in their own care. These heroes of patient safety include people like:
• Sorrel King, a former fashion designer who lost her daughter Josie at age 18 months from neglect and an overdose of drugs at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Ms. King and her husband Tony set up a foundation in Josie’s name that promotes a family-activated “rapid response team,” a formal mechanism in hospitals that lets families call in a team when the patient seems to be deteriorating but hasn’t yet hit a full Code Blue crisis.
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