By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) this week released a new report, Safer Together: A National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety. A panel of federal agencies, experts, advocates, and other stakeholders worked for more than two years to create these recommendations.

“The way in which diverse groups and patient advocates who are interested in patient safety came together to forge the National Action Plan is unprecedented, and it underscores the necessity to work together to create the safest healthcare possible,” Jeffrey Brady, MD, MPH, authoring committee co-chair and director of the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, said in a statement. “Over the past 20 years, the field has amassed a tremendous body of knowledge to improve healthcare safety. What’s been missing is the use of this knowledge for more coordinated action. That’s what we want to rectify.”

The recommendations are built on four foundational areas: culture, leadership, and governance; patient and family engagement; workforce safety; and learning systems. The report authors picked these four because they are so intertwined with patient safety across the entire treatment journey.

“With so many competing priorities and requirements that health systems face, it has become difficult to focus on key areas that are foundational for improving across the board,” Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, authoring committee co-chair and chief safety and transformation officer at Press Ganey, said in a statement. “The Action Plan helps direct attention to these interdependent areas, which have substantial, wide-ranging influence on many aspects of patient safety. Accelerating improvement in each of these areas will mutually support improvement in others and create the fertile soil that allows broader safety initiatives to take root and be cultivated.”

IHI noted one of its report’s four foundational areas, workforce safety, is the theme of this year’s World Patient Safety Day (Sept. 17), organized each year by the World Health Organization (WHO). “The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled the huge challenges and risks health workers are facing globally, including healthcare-associated infections, violence, stigma, psychological and emotional disturbances, illness, and even death. Furthermore, working in stressful environments makes health workers more prone to errors which can lead to patient harm,” WHO noted on the occasion of this year’s Safety Day.

In Episode 11 of the Relias Media podcast series, “Rounds With Relias,” an expert details the safety risks that can exist when healthcare systems expand and how administrators can prevent patient harm with proper planning. For much more on this week’s IHI report and related subjects, be sure to read the upcoming November issue of Hospital Peer Review.