Aim to achieve ‘zero harm’


“Zero harm” refers to the concept of not having any patients harmed as a result of their interactions with a health care system. For example, no laboratory results are misread or overlooked, no medication errors occur, a patient is not misdiagnosed, and a patient does not fall or get an infection.

As clinicians work to improve quality and safety for patients, some have been able to reach the ideal concept of zero harm.

“But the goal of zero harm should become everyone’s new mantra and, to get there, health care providers need to add new dimensions to their typical quality improvement and patient safety efforts,” said Karyn D. Baum, MD, MSEd, MHA, associate chief medical officer, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, who will speak during the session “Aiming for Zero Preventable Harm.”

Dr. Baum said the interactive lecture, which she will present with MaryEllen Pfeiffer, DO, SFHM, director of patient safety, WellSpan Health, York, Pa., is designed to review the concept of zero harm. The duo will discuss what this goal entails and explain the skills and concepts that providers need to implement at their sites.

Dr. Karyn Baum, associate chief medical officer, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Dr. Karyn Baum

Many of these, which are needed to achieve zero harm, are similar to those already employed in quality improvement efforts, such as employing a plan-do-study-act cycle. To achieve zero harm, however, providers must relentlessly execute all of these efforts. In addition, newer concepts, such as more hospital board involvement in safety, need to be woven into previous concepts for health systems to reach this goal.

“When looking to achieve zero patient harm, look through the lens of operations and care delivery; it will become clear what changes need to be made in order to reach that goal,” Dr. Baum said.

Dr. Baum is a speaker for Boehringer Ingelheim on transitions of care and a consultant for Excelsior HealthCare Group.

Aiming for Zero Preventable Harm
Tues., 2:50-3:50 p.m.
Crystal Ballroom G1/A&B

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