The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) recently announced the launch of the American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety (ASPPS), a multidisciplinary membership organization designed to elevate patient safety to the level of a unique healthcare discipline. The new group has set as an early priority the development of a cross-disciplinary certification program for patient-safety professionals by 2012.
NPSF was formed in 1997 following a meeting of major health organizations to discuss patient safety, explains president Diane Pinakiewicz, MBA, who also heads ASPPS.
"When we first started, issues of medical errors and patient safety were not as widely recognized," she says.
The translation of error-prevention strategies from other fields (e.g. aviation) into healthcare continues to grow, and today there are more tools and resources to help healthcare professionals. "But they often have a hard time prioritizing it," Pinakiewicz says. "The challenge is to identify where are the biggest levers for the field and the discipline of patient safety."
Increasingly, transitions of care are being recognized as critical to safe and effective patient flow, and NPSF included a focus on preventing readmissions in its promotion of Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 6-12.
More than 300 health professionals have joined ASPPS, about 15% of them physicians, including many chief medical officers and patient safety officers, Pinakiewicz says. Although it is not known how many of these physicians are working hospitalists, "from my perspective, the hospitalist is in an incredibly pivotal seat."
SHM recently launched the Center for Hospital Innovation and Improvement, a community that can help hospitalists address QI and patient safety issues.