For this yr’s World Affected person Security Day (Sept. 17), we should acknowledge what the pandemic has uncovered: the U.S. fails in utilizing its extraordinary expertise and knowledge system capabilities to maintain its sufferers and healthcare employees secure. The present disaster solely emphasizes what our annual loss of life charge from preventable medical error—upwards of 250,000 folks a yr—reveals. We aren’t resilient, resourceful or ready to guard sufferers or employees.
The issues may very well be addressed with a powerful nationwide company that may, without delay, overcome an absence of preparedness for a pandemic in addition to scale back our annual loss of life toll from medical errors. Such an company or authority would deploy a centralized, clever engineering system to anticipate shortages of provides, check kits, and drugs; appropriate our inefficient distribution system; quickly extract finest practices from our digital well being information and share them with front-line clinicians; and create a nationwide and international security studying community. What may very well be completed autonomously and nearly by way of out there applied sciences can be deployed.
Consider NASA and all that went into touchdown a person safely on the moon. And people classes are from greater than 50 years in the past. NASA wanted to anticipate each conceivable hurt and catastrophe and create corrective autonomous prevention techniques. Human and technical error are each minimized when expertise is utilized to each conceivable glitch earlier than takeoff. A command and management middle assembles all the required experience and knowledge to repeatedly monitor a journey for indicators of dysfunction and remotely resolve as many errors as attainable. The place human life is worried, hurt and failure aren’t acceptable. And after each main occasion, all main glitches or incidents are investigated intensely, options recognized and never repeated. That is what fail-safe techniques do routinely. That is what we do not accomplish that properly in healthcare.
We’re safer once we journey on highways, on tracks, and within the air as a result of the Nationwide Transportation Security Board performs these similar capabilities. Utilizing out there knowledge, expertise and skilled incident investigators, the NTSB proposes coverage options (e.g., college bus development pointers), conduct adjustments (e.g., smoke detectors) or autonomous techniques (e.g., airbags). The Division of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and different regulators have adopted 90% of those suggestions. James Fallow asks within the June 29 situation of the Atlantic, “Think about if the Nationwide Transportation Security Board investigated America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic?” I do know what would occur. We would create a Nationwide Affected person Security Authority.
Why not? Why not shield sufferers and healthcare employees with the identical focus and innovation that we have used to mitigate the dangers from transportation, nuclear energy, bioterrorism and cyberattacks? Proper now, within the U.S., we accumulate knowledge on affected person or employee security from 15 federal businesses, 80 state patient-safety organizations and quite a few impartial businesses. However we lack a centralized entity to seize and align these knowledge for speedy, dependable and seamless flows of data to our entrance strains of care. Now we have but to completely take benefit our $30 billion funding in digital well being information to determine the anomalies that inform us about finest and worst practices—in actual time, and we don’t apply our learnings broadly to save lots of lives.
By not counting on new applied sciences reminiscent of predictive analytics, machine studying, synthetic intelligence, and robotics, we’ve failed to alleviate our clinicians of extra reporting, longer checklists and inadvertent harms.
If we ask, what can the U.S. do to create the identical security and risk-avoidance protections that we do for our astronauts, those that work or reside in proximity to nuclear energy crops, and all vacationers and pilots, we make an apparent suggestion: Create a Nationwide Affected person Security Authority.