We were surprised that Andis Robeznieks chose to cover the National Patient Safety Foundation's 2007 Patient Safety Congress much as Roger Ebert might review a summer blockbuster that fell short of audience expectations, save for a few actors performances. We do not share this perspective, nor is it reflective of feedback from attendees either during the meeting or in post-meeting evaluations.
While certainly one goal of the Congress is to motivate attendees to return home empowered to implement the many changes needed to improve patient safety, the event has never aspired to focus on the new thing in healthcare. If anything, as we make progress in patient safety as an industry, sessions designed to help frontline workers implement change become even more essential to the reduction of medical errors, although they may seem boring or irrelevant to those not directly involved. Reorganizing supply closets so everything is properly labeled may not be the stuff of a box-office hit, but simple process changes that ensure that sterile equipment is available when and where needed is the stuff of saving lives.
Judging from the serpentine line at the bookstore following her speech at a plenary session, Doris Kearns Goodwin did not need to connect the obvious dots in order for listeners to comprehend how Lincolns ability to hold together a contentious cabinet during the Civil War applies to our own challenges. To ensure that the dots were very well-connected, the plenary was accompanied by an excellent commentary on her book, prepared by David Lawrence (and given to every attendee), which did just that.
As for World Health Organization announcements stealing the Congress thunder, this is the second year that the National Patient Safety Foundation has been pleased to share the stage with this vital and closely aligned organization. It is also practical that we do so in order to convene international attendees to these related events. The numbers of unintended harm from medical errors produce blockbuster headlines; solutions to improve patient safety are a slow, arduous process. The National Patient Safety Foundation is working with our many partners to make healthcare safer.
Paul A. Gluck, M.D.Chairman
National Patient Safety Foundation board of directors
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