GovProc2014.300Upon request by American Data Network Patient Safety Organization, Gov. Mike Beebe issued a proclamation naming March 2 – 8, 2014 “Patient Safety Awareness Week” in Arkansas. The week coincides with the national campaign staged annually by the National Patient Safety Foundation and themed, this year, “Navigate Your Health…Safely.”

In the proclamation, Gov. Beebe acknowledged that all Arkansans have a role to play in the movement to improve the quality and safety of patient care in Arkansas and across the nation. “Increased improvement in patient safety can be achieved by promoting the widespread sharing of best practices within the health-care industry, as well as by continuous communication between patients and caregivers,” Gov. Beebe said in the proclamation. Beebe also affirmed the importance of “understanding the underlying causes of errors, learning from reported errors, and working to eliminate conditions that contribute to preventable errors.”

A new study published in the Journal of Patient Safety in 2013 suggests that at least 210,000 and as many as 440,000 patient deaths result annually in the United States due to medical error. These numbers would make preventable adverse events the nation’s  third leading cause of death — just behind heart disease and cancer. The greatest obstacle to preventing such events may be insufficient information. A 2012 report from the Office of the Inspector General showed that only one in seven errors, mishaps and preventable events are entered into hospital incident reporting systems. Without accurate data regarding adverse events, it is impossible for hospitals to determine the underlying causes of errors and make the changes necessary to mitigate risk and harm in the future.

The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 authorized the creation of Patient Safety Organizations to identify and reduce the potential risk associated with patient care. PSOs are designed to improve the quality of the healthcare system in the U.S. by encouraging clinicians and healthcare organizations to voluntarily report and share data on patient safety events without fear of legal discovery. Established in 2009, American Data Network PSO is Arkansas’ first and only federally designated Patient Safety Organization.