Letter from the Chairman, March 2020

It is a great honor to be appointed chairman of the board of directors of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation. Joe Kiani has held this position from its inception and what a vision and accomplishment he has brought to healthcare. Patient safety has become the focus not only in US hospitals but has become a global initiative. It is with some considerable angst that I take on this role, as these are very large boots to fill! Fortunately, Joe is staying very much involved as he sees his vision reach an unforeseeable momentum and is now saving lives across the globe. Lives are being saved, harm is being prevented and hospitals are becoming the safe havens they should be and not the danger zones they had become. What a phenomenal achievement!

I see this board of directors as first having a fiduciary responsibility together with good governance. We must not forget that It takes funds to move the needle, as we are doing. We must have focus to continue the enormous amount of work that has been done, and increase the widespread impact that has already been achieved. Lives are being saved in our health care systems; patient harm is being prevented. We have momentum and we must build on it. The PSMF board must continue to be interactive with new ideas but when decisions are made, we must act together as a strong team to get the results we need. 

Our hospitals must become High Reliability Organizations. The Culture of Safety must be present, and palpable in our hospitals. This must come from strong leadership.  There must be outcomes reports, transparency and aligned incentives with public reporting of these outcomes. A nonpunitive environment must exist in our hospitals for honest mistakes or “near misses,” so that new safer processes can be learned. However, accountability must also be in place when a proven process is not followed for no other reason than expediency. Safety must be hardwired into our health care systems and demonstrated. Best proven practices must be shared, and success celebrated. Safety depends on our core values and requires reduced variation in practice when the safe roadway has been proven. We on the board are a team, all who work in health care must work together as a team to prevent patient harm

We have tremendous momentum that we must not lose. The March for Patient Safety in Washington DC this September will give us the chance to demonstrate to the world our fervor to make a difference and demonstrate our hard-won success. We are not competing with any organization but strongly support entities with the patient safety goal and hope that we can all pull together and use all our resources to reach zero preventable deaths and zero harm. Zero is our target and we can get there!

After one presentation that I made a young nurse came up to me and said that we all need to become “Patient Safety Soldiers”! We must all fight together as an integrated army to reach the goal of ZERO!  We must listen to our youth! 

Mike Ramsay