Letter From the Editor
We enter the winter holiday season amidst the worst health crisis most of us have ever known. It is so difficult to think about anything other than masks and vaccines and how to eradicate an invisible enemy. In fact, it can be all-consuming. However, an additional challenge is how to keep our heads out of the sand in relation to all the other issues that affect patients and their loved ones daily. One of our goals at Patient Safety throughout this pandemic has been to continue to shine light on the ongoing patient safety crisis that plagues our healthcare system day in and day out.
Wrong-site surgery (WSS) is one of those things that is never supposed to happen. I experienced a WSS myself, as a former patient safety officer who was working for the Patient Safety Authority (PSA) at the time. I assure you, if it can happen to me, it can happen to you. While this may be an old topic in patient safety, it is still very real and still happens—daily across the globe and 1.42 times weekly in Pennsylvania! Take a look at the various ways PSA staff Robert Yonash and Matthew Taylor broke down and analyzed this data to help give us the clearest picture of these events to date. Our collective challenge is how to make significant improvement in this area. The guidelines are out there. Why are we not following them?
I had the privilege and honor of sitting down (virtually) with Queen Quet, chieftess and head-of-state for the Gullah/Geechee Nation, to discuss some of the unspoken challenges we face in healthcare. Patient safety isn’t always about what goes right or wrong in the healthcare setting. It is also about those patients who never reach our doors for various reasons. Patient safety and quality of care starts in our communities. I invite you to learn a little history about a nation within our nation and how we can start to meet the needs of all our communities right now. Adding to the dialogue about ongoing patient safety issues, Cait Allen, our managing editor, spoke with Dr. David F. Gaieski, director of Emergency Critical Care at Jefferson Health, to talk about sepsis, its interplay with COVID-19, and why it’s a big deal.
Additional articles include a unique perspective related to health IT and wrong-patient errors; events related to prone positioning, a common body position for treating patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome; a patient perspective from someone who lived through childhood polio, underscoring the importance of vaccinations; and several others.
Finally, we at Patient Safety and the PSA thank healthcare workers and all essential employees for your dedication and sacrifices through these most trying times. We wish you a very safe holiday season!