As one doctor puts it, hospital CEOs don’t lay awake at night thinking about how to improve patient safety. Even a death due to a hospital’s actions has very few ramifications for the facility. Until it does, patient safety won’t improve.
Hospitals lack clear and strong incentives to make patient care safer, Ashish K. Jha, M.D., a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Forbes contributor Leah Binder. While some improvement has happened in infection controls, for example, the push for other areas of patient safety has been “excruciatingly slow.”
Patient Safety, Jha advises, is an organizational commitment more than a personal commitment among doctors, nurses, and other licensed hospital staff. He says no CEO got fired because patient safety suffered. He’d stress long-term patient success as a proper metric for evaluating hospitals, such as readmission rates at 90 days.
Patients in Minnesota will soon start evaluating hospitals for other metrics, such as staffing reports, and making healthcare decisions on how safe they’ll feel and how transparent each hospital wants to be with its figures. Until there’s a minimum standard of patient care, these figures are the only promise of safety a patient can expect.