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Improving patient safety is a goal at every hospital and health system. In fact, hospital and system trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure high-quality, safe patient care. First, the goals of improving quality and eliminating patient harm must be embedded into the strategic plan and planning process. Second, board-level quality committees or clinical quality committees must be engaged in the process. Most highly effective boards devote a significant part of each board meeting discussing quality and safety.
Though there is no single measure of patient safety and quality, a total patient harm rate that aggregates outcomes throughout the organization can get close to a patient safety bottom line. While hospitals and systems should continue tracking individual measures, combining those measures into one total patient harm rate provides a greater opportunity for critical discussion of organizational strategies for improvement. Key strategies to eliminate harm and improve quality are embracing transparency; engaging clinicians, patients and families; aligning goals throughout the organization; and reducing disparities.
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