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Transportation Industry Partners Inform National Patient Safety Policy Proposal

Chairman Robert Sumwalt and Dr. Hassan Shahidi

A few months into the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF)'s Full Court Press initiative, we are optimistic about the progress toward a National Patient and Provider Safety Authority (NPSA), in part due to support and information from new partners in the transportation industry. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has done for the transportation industry what we aspire to do for health care: create an ongoing improvement trajectory of increasing safety. Having one central federal agency focused on safety appears to be a "missing link" for health care.

The NTSB has for decades successfully applied autonomous technologies and safety principles to prevent accidents. By collaborating on investigations and sharing data among partner agencies, key stakeholders in the aviation industry, for instance, anticipate mishaps and make corrective actions. We have sought guidance from two top leaders in transportation safety: NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt and Dr. Hassan Shahidi, President and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, who have been our guiding lights as we advance policy for an NPSA.

The NPSA Full Court Press Team was honored to have Chairman Sumwalt as a guest speaker during a recent meeting. Chairman Sumwalt shared information on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)'s structure and functions, emphasizing the benefit of the federal agency's independence in its ability to investigate adverse transportation events. In-depth, impartial, multi-disciplinary investigations are crucial components in building powerful solutions with credibility, Chairman Sumwalt noted.

NTSB relies on ASIAS to collect critical data essential to its investigations. While at MITRE, Dr. Shahidi helped to create ASIAS, the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing program sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration. With its predecessor the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), ASIAS supported a ten-year aviation safety overhaul. By adopting new technology, data sharing, and a non-punitive approach, the programs achieved an 80% reduction of accidents and revolutionized the industry's safety reporting infrastructure.

ASIAS has already inspired a similar approach in the auto industry (the National Highway Safety Administration, launched through MITRE) and presents an applicable model for health care. We are grateful to both Chairman Sumwalt and Dr. Shahidi for their insights, which have greatly informed our understanding of policy to create a positive trajectory of safety in health care. 

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