Safety Summit focuses on preventing medical errors
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[OCT. 19, 2006]
CHICAGO -- Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, director of the
Illinois Department of Public Health, convened Gov. Rod R.
Blagojevich's Patient Safety Summit on Monday at the University of
Illinois-Chicago. The summit was a forum for the department's newly
created Division of Patient Safety to gather input from hospitals,
physician groups, surgery associations, nursing organizations,
grocery stores, home health care, medical centers, insurance
companies, pharmacists, worker unions and other health care
stakeholders about concerns and action needed to ensure the safety
of Illinois patients. Whitaker was joined by Richard Sewell of the
University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Public Health and
keynote speaker Dr. James Bagian, director of the National Center
for Patient Safety with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,
Veterans Health Administration.
"When you go to the doctor, you
shouldn't have to worry about someone making a mistake," Blagojevich
said. "I created the Division of Patient Safety to come up with ways
to cut down on medical mistakes that claim the lives of more than
4,000 people in Illinois every year."
Blagojevich signed the
executive order creating the Division of Patient Safety on July 13.
The summit is a kickoff for the division. The Department of Public
Health will summarize the advice it receives during the summit, and
a report to quantify the advice received from stakeholders will be
made available to the public in a month or two following the
"The goal of patient safety is to prevent harm to patients,"
Bagian said. "It is not about counting problems, but about
identifying vulnerabilities which put patients at risk and taking
decisive action to minimize or eliminate those risks. Improving
patient safety should not be focused on who to blame when medical
errors occur, but about understanding the cause of those errors and
fixing them. This summit allows health care professionals to focus
their efforts on what actions need to be taken to solve medical
Providing further proof that the Division of Patient Safety was
needed, Whitaker stated that thousands of Illinoisans die each year
as a result of medical errors, costing Illinois citizens more than
$1.5 billion per year in increased patient insurance premiums,
hospital costs, co-pays, physician insurance rates and prescription
"This summit is an important step in ensuring patient safety in
Illinois," Whitaker said. "We are gathering input from people in the
health care and health policy fields to find out what additional
steps our Division of Patient Safety should take to reduce or
eliminate medical errors and improve patient safety."
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Patient safety improvement breakout sessions included topics such
as reporting adverse health care events, transparency of health care
provider information, e-prescribing, electronic health records,
enhanced technology needs, nursing home database enhancements,
nursing home patient safety initiatives and physician-focused
Powers and duties of the Division of Patient Safety include:
medical providers to use e-prescribing programs by 2011.
within Illinois in need of enhanced technology to support
types of technology needed to implement e-prescribing programs.
the Illinois departments of Financial and Professional
Regulation and Healthcare and Family Services to draft and issue
recommended medication practices, such as prescribing,
dispensing and maintenance, to all health care providers.
Illinois Department of Public Health's nursing home database to
include information such as staffing ratios, medication
distribution, on-site services and citations issued against each
facility, enabling consumers to make well-informed decisions.
expanding the state's efforts at health care provider
information transparency, such as the Hospital Report Card, the
Consumer Guide to Health and similar efforts to ensure that
health care consumers and purchasers may make informed choices
regarding the quality and cost-effectiveness of medical care.
Illinois Adverse Health Care Events Reporting Law.
[News release from the governor's