National Coalition Launches Campaign to Improve Patient Safety

Robert L. Sumwalt, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and Harry Litman, former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General and current host of the Talking Feds podcast.

A national advocacy coalition, led by the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI), has launched a campaign to push for a National Patient Safety Board (NPSB), to address the persistently high rates of medical error in the United States leading to more than 250,000 preventable deaths annually.

This campaign stems from months of collaboration with top leaders in patient safety to fashion a vigorous solution and gain consensus on the specifications, and strategy, for a new federal agency. The NPSB Advocacy Coalition, representing all key healthcare stakeholder groups, supports immediate legislative action. Leadership from more than 50 leading healthcare organizations, consumer groups, and businesses are asking the White House and Congress to expeditiously form the NPSB.

The NPSB would follow in part the operational model of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has significantly improved transportation safety in the U.S. for more than 50 years without regulations, penalties or public exposure. Coalition member and former Chairman of the NTSB Robert L. Sumwalt says, "I've seen the incredible influence of the National Transportation Safety Board to improve safety across transportation, and I believe there are aspects of the NTSB that can be translated to medicine, which can lead to profound effects on improving the safety of health care and consequently save lives."

Sumwalt also pointed to the efforts of the airline industry, which is constantly monitoring operational metrics, rewarding employees for reporting adverse events and 'near misses', and openly sharing deidentified data among competitors. The credibility of this nonpunitive analysis and intensive interdisciplinary study produces solutions whose adoption is almost always assured.

"The missteps in managing the COVID-19 pandemic crisis mirror the problems our nation experiences in managing the annual death and disability toll from preventable harms," said JHF and PRHI President and CEO Karen Feinstein. "Many thought leaders now agree that a National Patient Safety Board, patterned after the NTSB but uniquely structured for health care, could centralize and scale critical remedies for both."

The public is also asked to get on board and sign up for campaign updates at npsb.org.

To hear directly from former NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt and PRHI President and CEO Karen Feinstein, visit npsb.org and tune into the inaugural edition of the NPSB's podcast series, "Up Next for Patient Safety." This important discussion is moderated by Harry Litman, former U.S. District Attorney, law professor, and political commentator. Litman is also the producer and host of the popular podcast "Talking Feds."

Read more in Modern Healthcare: Pushing for a new government agency to curb patient harms

Read more in the Pittsburgh Business Times: Pittsburgh nonprofit takes key role in reducing medical errors

Read more in Healthcare Innovation: Coalition Urges Creation of National Patient Safety Board

Read more in Becker's Hospital Review: Patient Safety Advocates Propose New Federal Agency

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