IHI’s Patient Safety Congress examines virtual care, racism and workplace violence

Donald Berwick

Donald Berwick speaks at Health Journalism 2011 as CMS administrator.

Leaders in efforts to prevent accidental harm to patients will meet this week to consider challenges presented by the expansion of virtual care as well as the need to address racism and workplace violence in medicine. These are among the topics planned at the Patient Safety Congress held by the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). 

The conference will also delve into efforts to put into effect an initiative known as the “Safer Together: A National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety” unveiled last year. The plan was the work of 27 organizations including federal agencies, safety groups and experts and patient and family advocates. It builds on the Institute of Medicine’s seminal 1999 report, “To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” which triggered major efforts to reduce cases of preventable harm, particularly in areas such as healthcare-acquired conditions.

“At the same time, it’s been impossible to ignore news and research that continue to show unacceptably high rates of preventable harm related to health care, for both patients and the workforce,” wrote the authors of the “Safer Together” plan in their report. “And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted even more the importance of focusing on patient and workforce safety and reducing preventable harm in every health care setting, including long-term care and care at home.” 

This week’s IHI Patient Safety Congress includes a Wednesday keynote address by Lucian Leape, M.D., a noted researcher on patient safety issues, and Robert Wachter, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age.” Another Wednesday session includes Donald Berwick, former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator and IHI president emeritus and senior fellow, who will moderate a discussion on the need to reengineer safety education. 

Also on the agenda for Wednesday is a session looking at how the sudden and unexpected expansion of virtual care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed potential patient safety vulnerabilities. Another session looks at how the need to create a framework to address manifestations of racism in medical care. 

Thursday’s agenda includes a session focused on efforts to reduce inpatient harm from violence. To see the full agenda, click here. The IHI Patient Safety Congress is open to journalists with valid press credentials. Contact Joanna Clark to register.

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