Letter From the Editor
The world as we knew it is only a distant memory. It has been a year since everything changed. Kids came home from school—some are still home. Meetings moved from downtown conference rooms to overcrowded dining rooms. Toilet paper almost became a black-market commodity. Our healthcare workers and healthcare systems were pushed beyond their limits. A half million people died in the United States alone and millions more recovered. Some initiatives were put on hold and others fast-tracked through what in “normal” times would take years. One thing is for certain, none of us are the same. And although we are not the same, there are passions that we continue to share.
Patient safety is one of those passions. It is a common aspiration, a common vision that brings healthcare workers, healthcare systems, and patients together. As the year turns to spring, we look forward with renewed spirit to the challenges that still lie ahead. With this March issue of Patient Safety, we acknowledge Patient Safety Awareness Week with our colleagues across the country, bringing you stories and research to both inform and inspire.
From our cover: Patient Safety’s managing editor, Caitlyn Allen, sits down for some vaccine straight talk with JoAnn Adkins, infection preventionist; Dr. Lily Brown, psychologist; and Susan Senator, the mother of an autistic child who provides a glimpse into the vaccine-hesitant culture and what made her change her mind. The discovery of vaccines is one of the greatest contributions to mankind in the history of medicine. Being able to bridge the gap between fact and fiction takes real conversations, a real understanding of the fears and skepticism of patients and families, and mutual respect.
Also, from our cover: While minimally invasive surgery (like the laparoscopic removal of a gall bladder) is generally safe, it is not without risk. Patient Safety Analyst Lea Anne Gardner shares her findings in an original analysis of Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System data. She includes the types of surgeries and related injuries, patient outcomes, and measures to minimize this sometimes-underappreciated risk.
Authors Dr. Karen Zimmer, Dr. David Classen, and Jessica Cole walk us through their approach to creating a new categorization schema for medication errors in the ambulatory setting. This work not only helped them to better understand medication safety errors in this setting, but also, perhaps even more importantly, will inform future work in the improvement of outpatient electronic health records to mitigate these risks.
Wendell Potter, well-known former-health-insurance-executive-turned-whistleblower, shares his perspectives on the healthcare insurance industry in the United States, how the average person can sniff out propaganda, and how patients can take charge of their own care. You do not want to miss this interview.
Other features include original articles related to medication reconciliation, medication errors related to patient height, and injuries from misplaced nasogastric tubes, and perspective pieces from both patients and providers related to patient height, resilience, derogatory language in medical records, and the importance of being your own advocate.
I hope that your passion for safer care and a brighter tomorrow continues to burn through these difficult times. If you have stories to share about your experience as a clinician or as a patient through this pandemic, please do not hesitate to submit a perspective piece to our editorial team. Original research, quality improvement initiatives, and case studies are also welcome at any time.
This journal was designed for our authors to freely share the important work they do to improve patient safety, and for our readers to freely receive the information, strategies, and lessons learned to make the care they provide and receive safer.
Stay safe and stay well!