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Fall 2004

Patient-Doctor Partnership Promotes Healthcare Safety

Responding to the landmark study, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” by the Institute of Medicine revealing that safety errors may cause between 44,000 to 98,000 needless deaths in U.S. hospitals annually, UCLA has taken a leadership role in implementing key safety procedures and practices to reduce the possibility of safety errors.

 “We think it’s important to engage patients in assisting physicians, nurses, and others to make healthcare safer,” says Lee Hilborne, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Patient Safety and Quality. Anyone scheduled to undergo a procedure—inpatient or outpatient— receives a Partners in Safety Program brochure that explains how to safeguard one’s well-being. “This program alerts patients to the common risks inherent in all hospitals and other healthcare settings as well as simple steps they can take to avoid or minimize those risks. Most of the guidelines really are common sense; however, hospitals are notoriously busy places and missteps can happen,” notes Dr. Hilborne.

Other UCLA activities promoting patient safety include establishing the Strategic Alliance for Error Reduction in California Healthcare (SAFER California Healthcare), a University of Californiawide initiative coordinated at UCLA; implementing an on-line event reporting system that quickly detects safety problems; and sponsoring a statewide patient/hospital safety summit.

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