About the Initiative
Patient Safety Awareness Week is an annual recognition event intended to encourage everyone to learn more about health care safety. During this week, IHI seeks to advance important discussions locally and globally, and inspire action to improve the safety of the health care system – for patients and the workforce.
Preventing harm in health care settings is a public health concern. At IHI, we believe patient safety needs to be addressed within a public health framework. Everyone interacts with the health care system at some point in life. And everyone has a role to play in advancing safe health care.
Patient Safety Awareness Week serves as a dedicated time and platform for growing awareness about patient safety and recognizing the work already being done.
Why Patient Safety Is Important
Although there has been real progress made in patient safety over the past two decades, current estimates place harm as a leading cause of death worldwide. Some studies suggest that medical error may cause as many as 400,000 deaths in the US each year, and not all errors result in death. In a recent survey of a representative sample of Americans, 41 percent said they had experienced a medical error in their own care or in the care of a close relative or friend. The harms resulting from these errors can have a long-term or permanent impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or their family relationships.
Errors and safety lapses can occur in any setting and take many forms:
- According to a consensus report from the National Academy of Medicine, estimates suggest that 5 percent of US adults who seek care in outpatient settings experience a diagnostic error.
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that, at any time, 1 in 31 hospitalized patients has an infection acquired in the health setting.
- Medication errors and adverse events are among the most common errors in both inpatient and outpatient settings.